With dark evenings and limited daylight to contend with, it’s easy to neglect exercise during the winter months. We know paddling makes us feel great when we get to the place, but getting there sometimes can be a struggle. Cold, wet, frosty, post-paddle ice on the kit. It’s easy to look out the window and think ‘nah, another day.’ But we’re here to remind you that paddling in winter is important. Not just for your mental wellbeing, but also to help you stay fit, healthy and active. Come spring, you’ll be so much more grateful for pushing yourself onto the water when you don’t fancy it.
That said, it’s always important to consider safety a little more perhaps in winter. Check this winter safety article out here.
With the safety box checked, let’s move on to reasons why you should stay healthy paddling through winter…
Stay healthy paddling through winter
Why should you paddle through winter?
Well let’s start by saying paddling through winter might not be for everyone. It’s cold, it’s wet. The river levels are likely to be higher and therefore the skill levels need to be there. So, if you’re sat reading this thinking ‘nah I don’t think paddling through winter is for me,’ then don’t force it! Look into exercises that will aid you when you get back on the water. Running, pilates and yoga are all popular complementary forms of exercise. As is gym based work like weights and lifting. So it might be that you look into something that suits you better on land.
That said, for anyone thinking ‘yeah actually, I’d like to continue paddling through winter,’ read on!
The physical benefits
- Regular movement is good for us, we all know that. But how good for us? Well, as well as you’ll know, exercise can help stave off type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes and even types of cancer. There’s also plenty of evidence to suggest it helps boost your immune system too, and who doesn’t need that at the moment!?
- Getting enough vitamin D is important – so get outside in that winter sun! Even though you might need to supplement during the winter months to ensure you’re getting enough, on those sunny winter days it’s a great excuse to get outside and top up!
- Maintaining a good level of fitness through winter is a good idea. It means that come spring you can hit the water again and continue where you left off last year. Keeping that core strength going and aiding the balance. No one wants those ‘new season wobbles’ when they get back out on the water!
The mental benefits
- Where do you even start on this one. There’s SO many ways that paddling can assist your mental wellbeing, especially in winter.
- Those who suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) will benefit from that daily dose of getting outside.
- Our mental wellbeing has a knock on effect on things like fatigue, sleep patterns and stress levels and vice versa. Getting outside even if it’s for 30 minutes or so a day, is REALLY important in winter. Paddling could quite literally be the medicine for winter that you need to keep you going.
- There’s increasing evidence to back how important accessing blue spaces are for your mental health. Click here to read an article by The Guardian about the link between blue spaces and happiness!
Anything else to add about how to stay healthy paddling through winter?
- Paddling is a social sport. Whether you go paddling with your club, friends or have 1:1 sessions, it gives us that human contact and interaction that’s so lacking at the moment. Make sure you’re sticking to the guidelines of course, but embrace that social element of paddling. It makes all the difference.
We’ve ticked off safety, but what about practicality?
Well, you’re likely to be wearing different kit when paddling in winter that’s for sure. You’ll be wanting to stay as warm and dry as possible. You can find out more about winter paddling kit you might need here.
Also think about things like a hot water bottle, hot flask for the adventure, gloves, hats. Basically, think about things that are going to warm you up! It’s easier to cool down in winter than it is to warm up. So make sure you’re prepared. Food is a consideration too, make sure you’ve got enough to keep you fuelled as you’re likely to burn more calories while paddling and simultaneously keeping warm.
So, have we convinced you yet? Hopefully there’s food for thought there around how paddling during winter could help you through lockdown and the various tiers across the UK. Don’t forget to let us know about your paddling! Tag us on Instagram @GoPaddling