Tips to Stay in Shape This Winter

Kalie Swails

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s atypically warm outside. In fact, according to, the average high in Brookings so far this year has been around 36 degrees.

Mention the unseasonably nice weather and people will nod fervently, extolling the lack of ice and bitter cold while knocking on the nearest wooden surface, as though premature joy will cause tundra to descend upon our little village at any moment. I’ve even heard some complain that they wish it was a little chillier and that there was more snow to play in.

Whether you’re loving this downright tropical January or wishing you had a reason to pull out that heavy coat and brave a whiter winter (in which case I must assume you’ve got beluga blubber for blood), this is the perfect season to exercise outdoors.

Those of us who enjoy exercising outside know a South Dakota winter typically forces many indoors and onto a treadmill, track or stationary what-have-you. Weather this nice, however, makes the case for hitting the pavement rather than the gym all on its own.

Just in case you do need a little persuading, though, here are a few reasons to get outside this season:

It can help prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is defined by the U.S. National Library of Medicine as episodes of depression that occur at a certain time of the year, most commonly during winter. Studies have also shown that individuals who choose to exercise outdoors during winter—whether they are sufferers of SAD or not—enjoy an improved sense of well-being and better mood overall.

There’s plenty of season-suitable gear out there to keep you warm.

There have been innumerable advances in outdoor equipment over the past decade. Outdoor gear has become lighter, more waterproof and, luckily for South Dakotans, significantly more windproof without demonstrating the breathability of a buffalo pelt. It also looks a heck of a lot more fierce than it used to. Being outside is good for you.

Enjoying time outdoors is enormously beneficial to both physical and mental health.

The Be Out There campaign is a national movement to get children and young people outside based on 14 scientific studies about the benefits of being active in an outdoor setting.

So get outside this season and keep your body hot even while it’s cold. Be winter weather smart: wear a hat, layer your core and watch for cars and those pesky patches of ice. Enjoy being outdoors and carpe the heck out of that diem, even if it snows.