Stay Fit During the Cold, Dark & Rainy Season

Sherri_Culchuk lakeWho wants to go for a run, bike or hike when it’s cold and rainy outside? With less light, it’s easy to understand why people don’t get as much activity in the winter and tend to hunker down and gain weight. This lack of sunlight often leads to people experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or the Winter Blues. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Follow these tips to feel great and stay in fabulous shape all winter long:

Gear Up:

If you have the right gear, you can still get outdoors when it’s cold and wet without feeling miserable. Not only will you keep your fitness routine going, but being outdoors even if it’s cloudy and rainy, still exposes you to some levels of daylight, UV Rays and Vitamin D and will help to prevent SAD. So head to REI, Sports Authority, Athlete’s Corner, Fleet Feet or your local sporting retailer to get some warm and waterproof clothing.

Join a Group: 

Running in the rain, cycling when it’s cold or hiking when you’re clouded in at the top is a lot more fun with others and when you’re involved in great conversations or post-workout festivities (coffee, beer, warm soup…) We are fortunate in Vancouver to have many fun running and biking groups and opportunities accessible (and often free or very low charge)

Embrace Winter Activities:

Try some of the more popular winter sports.  You may find a love for an activity that you will get you outdoors all winter long and keep you in great shape.  So whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, snow-shoeing, sledding or cross-country skiing, there are many outdoor winter activities that will keep your heart pumping, adrenaline flowing and keep you looking and feeling your best all winter long!

Try the Indoor Version:

You can still keep your routine going strong by trying the Indoor versions of your favorite sport.  If you’re storing your road bike for the winter, now would be a great opportunity to start taking an indoor cycling class (come and try mine for free for a couple weeks so you can check it out).  If you like water sports, you might sign up for an Indoor Rowing program. If you like to run, get on the treadmill.  Or if you like to hike, try out the Stairclimbing machines.

Try Something New:

Since your outdoor activity is decreasing, it’s a great opportunity to try a brand new activity or focus on an area that you’d like to improve on. If you like to dance, try a Zumba class and get a good sweat on.  Sign up for a Rock-climbing course at The Source Rockclimbing gym. The cold and wet season is a perfect time to enroll in a Hot Yoga class. Maybe you’ve always want to try a Ballet Bar workout.

Focus on Strength Training:

Winter is a great time to increase your muscle conditioning workouts and develop your strength and endurance that can help you when you increase your outdoor, sports and cardio activity in the spring and summer.  So use this down-season to really focus on strengthening your entire muscular and connective tissue system. If you don’t know where to start consult with a trainer who can custom-design a program for you based on your muscular weaknesses, imbalances and goals.

Join a Gym or Training Studio:

Being around other like-minded individuals on a mission to stay healthy and fit will help to maintain your energy and commitment to your fitness program. All gyms including our Personal Training studio experience an influx of clients coming back to seek refuge from the colder, wetter NW weather.

Seek the Sun:

In the Northwest, we are treated to random days of sunshine during the fall and winter months so ALWAYS be sure to get outside on those days even for just 15-20 minutes and soak up some Vitamin D.  Many people also benefit from scheduling a trip to the sun during the rainy months to help get their bodies through this time of year – whether it’s just a weekend trip to California, Vegas or Arizona – or even the sunnier areas of the NW – or maybe a trip to Hawaii or Mexico during Winter or Spring break.

If you do things right, you can actually look forward to and enjoy these next 5-6 months in the Northwest!

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for over 25 years and has received numerous industry awards including International Personal Trainer and Fitness Presenter of the Year. She is the author of five books including “Go For Fit – the Winning Way to Fat Loss” and “Fit over Forty” and is the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs.  She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver and can be seen running, hiking or cycling with her two children, Brianna and Jackson.  She can be reached at or

Note:  As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details.

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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