Why you need to stay active this winter

Amy McNeel

Winter has hit full blast here in Michigan: Freezing temperatures, cold winds, snow falls and short, dark days are certainly upon us. With the drop in temperature, it seems inevitable that the Grand Valley State University community will start to lag in both social and physical activities. Of course, it’s easy to be lazy when it’s freezing cold outside, but staying active can help you not only survive the winter but conquer it. 

I’ll be the first to say that winters are a real challenge. When it’s cold and dark outside, I don’t want to get out of bed, let alone go to class. I’d much rather hibernate until the end of March. But, ultimately, staying trapped in a cave of blankets doesn’t help the situation. Winter blues are common, and staying indoors only amplifies them. 

Winter blues are a serious issue and can range from simple boredom all the way to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the establishment of depression during the winter months. According to WebMD, this change in mood “occurs when daily body rhythms become out-of-sync because of the reduced sunlight.” A lack of physical and social activity contributes to these lower mood levels as well, which can result in fatigue and loss of motivation. The good news is that there are ways to combat winter blues. 

When it’s cold, it’s easy to stay inside and binge-watch Netflix, but to make the most out of the winter season, try to get out of the house and get active. When I say to get active, I don’t necessarily mean go to the gym or work out, although those are both great options. Rather, I mean go do things. Lucky for us, there are a lot of ways to be active around campus and in the city. From ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids to attending a Griffins game at the Van Andel Arena to joining a club here at GVSU, the opportunities are endless. 

Not only does being active make winter more bearable, but it actually can make it fun. I’ve always felt that winter is long and boring, but having things planned to look forward to makes everything go more smoothly. Plus, spending time with friends and family is so much more worthwhile than “Netflix-ing” away the winter. Being active helps take up your time and takes your mind off the winter blues. In other words, staying active keeps you occupied, which overall helps you get through these cold months. 

With it being only the beginning of the winter semester, it’s critical to start off as strong as possible. While the weather conditions can be harsh, it’s important to make the best of them. Instead of staying in and waiting for the days to get warmer, you should try to get out and enjoy these months as much as you can. 

I know that winters can be hard, and I know firsthand that they can affect moods. Sometimes I let the cold get the best of me, and sometimes, while walking back from class, I wonder why I decided to attend a school located in the center of a snow globe. But at the end of the day, winter is just a season and it will soon pass. Instead of gloomily letting it drag along, go out and enjoy it while it lasts.