Snowbirds heading south for the winter have a lot to look forward to – the milder weather, the sunshine, seeing old friends.

And we know they will want to keep up their fitness routines – or take the change of scenery as a chance to start some.

And everyone staying put for the winter might want to refocus their efforts, too, so they’re sure to stay in the fitness groove during the colder months.

It’s not hard to see why countless Americans and Canadians over 50 like to spend these months somewhere warmer. In northern climates, wintertime can mean physical challenges for anyone. Sidewalks are slippery, driving can be dangerous, shovelling snow can be physically challenging. And all of that often makes us want to just stay inside, warm on the couch, until spring.

Tips for Snowbirds

To snowbirds, we say, good for you! Going south can be a rewarding and pleasant lifestyle at this stage. And snowbirds tend to have better health than mature people who spend all year in one location, according to a study in the Journals of Gerontology.

Here are some tips to make sure you manage the transition and stay on the healthy track.

  • Make plans before you go. If you’re returning somewhere and have a gym there, get in touch and let them know you’re coming back. If not, ask us for a recommendation and call or email them in advance for a tour and information about seasonal specials. We can probably find you someone who is FAS certified!

  • Set at least one goal. Maybe you want to keep your weight down – or get it down to start with. Maybe you’d like to run a 5K or do your first sprint triathlon. Having a goal, and letting people know about it, gives you focus and motivation.

  • Stay in touch with us. At ProActive Fitness, we care about you and want to know how you’re doing while away! So do other trainers. Some gyms/trainers will offer exercise plans, Skype check-ins and online coaching sessions. Ask about snowbird deals. At ProActive, you always have access to our members’ page where you can see the home workouts we post.

  • Take advantage of what’s new for you in your winter locale. Maybe this is a good time to start walking more outdoors with your spouse or friends. Or to try yoga, Pilates, Nordic walking (also known as “urban poling ”) or any number of other fresh activities – or recommit to strength training. Some RV communities in Arizona and Florida have Pickleball leagues. It’s an increasingly popular game that combines ping-pong, tennis and badminton.

  • Make new friends and renew existing relationships. The social aspect of fitness is one of the most rewarding. And it contributes to success, as well.

Tips If You’re Staying Put

And for those who are sticking around home, we offer some thoughts to help you stay on track, too.

  • Be mindful of the change in daylight. Some people find earlier darkness tends to make them want to stay home more. Being aware of why you’re feeling that way can help keep you moving.

  • Enjoy the holidays, but don’t overindulge too much. Be mindful of all the opportunities we have in November and December to eat and drink more than we should. Choose your priorities, and include moderation and exercise among them.

  • Try something different. Talk to us about individual or group training; we have a variety of sessions you might enjoy. Or maybe head outdoors and keep moving safely in the (very) fresh air.

Healthy Recipe: Lemon Chicken Skillet Dinner

This one-pan chicken dish is a whole meal in one skillet. But I would add a simple side salad to sneak in another serving of veggies. This calls for tender “haricots verts” because they’re quick cooking; traditional green beans likely won’t be tender enough after the brief cooking time at the end. If that’s all you have, steam them first, and then add them to the pan for the final step.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces baby red potatoes, halved

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pounded to ¾-inch thickness

  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 2 thyme sprigs

  • 4 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

  • ¼ cup whole milk

  • 5 teaspoons all-purpose flour

  • 1¾ cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)

  • 8 very thin lemon slices

  • 1 (8-ounce) package trimmed haricots verts (French green beans)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Instructions

Step 1

Preheat oven to 450°.

Step 2

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil, and simmer 12 minutes or until tender. Drain.

Step 3

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan. Sprinkle chicken with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add chicken and thyme sprigs to pan; cook 5 minutes or until chicken is browned. Turn chicken over. Place pan in oven; bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan.

Step 4

Return pan to medium-high heat. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Add potatoes, cut sides down; mushrooms; and 1 tablespoon thyme; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring once. Combine milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add remaining salt, remaining pepper, flour mixture, stock, lemon, and beans to pan; simmer 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Add chicken; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender. Sprinkle with parsley.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 342; Fat: 8.6g; Saturated Fat: 1.8g; Carbohydrates: 23g; Fibre: 45g; Sodium: 642 mg; Protein: 43g