Spending less time watching TV

[attach]851[/attach]With pumpkins on porches and turkeys on the table, many people start spending more time indoors. But colder weather doesn’t mean you have to hibernate. In fact, fall and winter bring a new assortment of activities that summer can’t offer.

Family physician Jonathan Kerr says many people become lethargic in winter, spending more time watching television and less time watching their waist.

“When patients come to see me in the spring, often times they admit to gaining weight over the winter months,” Kerr says.

He suggests those who are sensitive to the cold or wary about ice find large indoor places where they can walk.

“There are always people walking in malls, if you can find a good route, that will help keep you in shape,” Kerr says.

Another indoor option is to join a gym, which usually offer group classes as well as independent fitness activities including racquetball, swimming, aerobic and weight training.

If the gym isn’t for you, there are many indoor activities you can do in the comfort of the fireplace this winter.

“Getting good, used indoor exercise equipment like an elliptical or a treadmill is not that expensive,” Kerr says.

Mike Somervilles, owner of Play It Again Sports in North York, says the used equipment they offer comes at a fraction of the price of new equipment.

But hiding from the weather is a good way to miss out on a lot of fun physical activities that are available for only a few months of the year.

“We’re so lucky that the Canadian winter offers so many opportunities to stay active,” says Kerr. “Even just walking in the winter is an exercise.”

Kerr suggests packing a thermos full of hot chocolate and going cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.

“You don’t have to spend a lot of money on equipment,” says Somervilles. “We have a lot of skates, road hockey equipment, downhill and cross country skis, and snowshoes.”

And in Toronto there are many places to use them. Nathan Philips Square offers outdoor skating in the winter, and there are inexpensive hockey arenas peppered throughout the city. High Park offers a scenic cross-country ski experience, and Centennial Park offers downhill tobogganing, skiing as well as snowboarding.

According to Kerr, most people begin to gain one pound of body fat every year after their 30th birthday and staying active in the winter is one way to stay trim and fit.

“Even minor fluctuations, that yo-yo effect between summer and winter, play a part in that unhealthy weight gain,” Kerr says.

And if you’re a warm weather sport fanatic at heart and don’t feel picking up a winter activity is for you, there’s always hope. Tossing a football around a park in two feet of snow is a great exercise and will make those tackles seem a lot friendlier.