February Fitness, Keeping Up With Exercise During Colder Months.

(image sourced from bustle.com)

(image sourced from bustle.com)

Well, it’s certainly been a different kind of winter in Toronto. Not as cold as normal, but not as sunny either, and not as bright, as there hasn’t been any lasting snow.

In fact I’m finding it a bit of a blah time of year, and that can make it difficult to keep going with my exercise program. New Year’s resolutions about exercising regularly are especially difficult to sustain but I have found it helps to allow myself the flexibility of when and where I exercise. If I don’t feel like going to the gym I can exercise at home (or even outside this year!). I also try to vary my program –this not only keeps my interest, but it is good for the body to cross train. For example, it’s good to know a few different exercises for one muscle group. Quads (thigh) strengthening can be done sitting or standing, and with a weight, a resistance machine or pulley. The same is also true for cardiorespiratory exercise, for example, using the bike one day, swimming another and walking will help to keep your body adaptable.

Exercise programs should be extremely flexible. One of my clients uses soup cans for weights and stands at the kitchen counter for support and away she goes. She varies her program by choosing to strengthen a different muscle group each day and introduces a cardiovascular element by walking in the mall 3 times a week or working on her stationery bike. When the weather is fine she simply goes for a walk outside.

As well as having a varied program, she’s learned how to pace herself and so avoids injury.

How does she do this?

1.     She gradually increases her program and she/we monitor any discomfort or pain following the work out. Then we adapt the exercise as needed.

2.     She listens to her body, stopping if there is any pain, and rests if she is getting tired.

3.     She has learned to maintain a good posture throughout.

4.     It is only when she can perform the exercise with good posture, no pain and with ease that she increases.

This client is an elderly lady who has intensified her program in very small increments, but I would apply the same principles to a young athlete. It’s tempting to push ourselves to our limit – adverts for sports drinks and running shoes show people doing just that-and they always seem fine doing it. If that’s how you exercise be aware that you are more likely to injure yourself (and so have to stop the sport you love for a while) if you don’t listen to your body and pace yourself.

Take a look at some of these resources and let me know what you think.

Happy exercising!

R. Sian Owen PT

The Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada has a great resource for mall walking in the GTA


This link lists various spots for seniors to exercise:






Exercise isn’t just for summer.

A couple of weekends ago most of Canada set its clocks back one hour, gaining some daylight in the mornings. Fall doesn’t end here, I’m glad to say, but for me the changing of the clocks always heralds the beauty and drama of winter. I begin to anticipate our 6 month companion’s return: the silent elegance of falling snow, frigid air slicing through ice-laden trees, cormorants flying low in long whipping lines over the crystalline blue of Lake Ontario. I’ve grown to love winter in Canada, but I’ve had to learn how to negotiate my right to enjoy it, to carry on doing the things I love to do, even when the snow is piled high. 

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