Get Out the Map

A winter getaway can help you not just survive, but thrive, in winter's cold, short days

click to enlarge Silver Mountain's Morning Star Lodge
Silver Mountain's Morning Star Lodge

Bears hibernate in the winter, snoozing through the dark days, living off fat stores. By the end of the season, they emerge lean and ready for spring frolicking. Humans tend to hibernate in the winter, too — holing up with comfort food, wintry drinks, good books and Netflix series to binge-watch. Unfortunately, we do not come out of winter's sleep thin and energetic; we pack on weight, adding an average of 5 to 7 pounds each winter.

"Exercising may be particularly difficult in the winter months, given the inclement weather, holidays, and increase in sickness," says Christopher P. Connolly, Ph.D., director of the Exercise Physiology & Performance Laboratory at Washington State University. "However, regular exercise during the winter months will likely improve mood and quality of life, while providing a boost in immune function to ward off common upper-respiratory tract infections."

Connolly points to scientific literature that recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, as well as some vigorous-intensity physical activity.

"The real problem is that only a small fraction of Americans achieve the 150 minutes of exercise recommended, and therefore do not receive the incredible health benefits that accompany regular physical activity," Connolly says. "Sufficient levels of activity can be achieved by simply going for a brisk walk 30 minutes a day."

Your psychological health also can be improved with regular exercise. Depression and mood disorders are common in winter, and exercise has the added benefit of helping lift the winter blahs.

"Recently, research has been conducted exploring the effectiveness of exercise treatments specifically on Seasonal Affective Disorder," Connolly adds. "A number of investigations have found that exercise may lessen the negative effects of SAD, especially when combined with light therapy. In these winter months, when there is less sunshine and the days seem gloomy, perhaps one of the best things an individual can do is go for a brisk walk. Physical activity can only help."

Make a promise that this will not be the winter you mope around or go up a pants size. Planning an active outdoor getaway can supply the incentive you'll need to stick to your health goals through the coldest, darkest days ahead.

These winter escapes are all within four hours of Spokane and Coeur d'Alene.

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