Meditative winterpocalypse?
December 30, 2017 10:53 AM   Subscribe

walking is an important part of my routine to keep my anxiety at bay. I walk between 40-50 km a week. It's been too cold and snowy-slushy outside to walk that much. Any ideas?

I'm getting really antsy and irritable having been unable to walk much since Christmas. My energy is low and I have a hard time concentrating. I tried to walk in the malls, and in indoor tracks, but I ended up getting way more anxious because I am moving at a speed different from most, and I needed to be really mindful not getting in other people's ways.

Any ideas, dear MeFiters?
I suspect my only options might be to brave the cold (and maybe get some more winter gear) or to give treadmills another try. But are there any other indoor places that I can walk around that I am somehow not thinking?
posted by redwaterman to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Get winter gear!! I live in a place that hasn’t been above 20F in weeks and gets a few inches of snow per week and I cannot emphasize enough the difference good winter gear makes. I walk to work every day (about a mile each way) and I’m never cold. Tall snow boots and a long down coat, warm hat and mittens, and a scarf or gaiter and you’re golden.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:58 AM on December 30, 2017 [16 favorites]

Invest in proper winter boots with good tread (or even snow cleats - google yaktrax), and a real warm down coat. High quality, soft hat and mitts. Walking outside in snow is one thing I miss about living in a cold winter climate. The snow walks I took in a super cold Michigan winter are one of my happiest memories from my time there!

A treadmill walk would make me feel more, not less, anxious, but YMMV.
posted by The Toad at 11:00 AM on December 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

My local mall opens an hour earlier to accommodate walkers. It is much better to walk the mall then than during business hours.

Layers. Dress warmly in layers, get good boots and walk outside. Totally worth the cost of good waterproof boots.
posted by AugustWest at 11:00 AM on December 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

Gear. Nice tall boots with great traction. A base layer - silk or wool, or uniqlo heat tech, or fleece lined tights. A wind proof outer layer for pants and coat. Plus protection for your face.

Bonus points if your coat has underarm zips because they’re great when you find yourself getting sweaty.

Another option is to also use some indoor walking at the mall, and make the mindfulness of other people in the mall space your meditative practice. Adjusting your speed and noticing where people are headed can be good work for the brain. Especially because you can notice other people being mindless while not judging them. I think it might help build compassion for others, which is good because that compassion then becomes easier to extend to yourself. Compassion for others is seriously way easier to learn, but very very valuable to transfer to yourself.
posted by bilabial at 11:05 AM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you have a college campus nearby (even a community college), you might try going there for walks; typically those places need to keep walking paths clear, and if you time things to be between classes or when classes are out (e.g. evenings, weekends & holidays), you can likely building-hop to avoid some of the cold and crowds. Heck, some of the larger campus buildings may be large enough to just do your entire walk in them.
posted by Aleyn at 11:08 AM on December 30, 2017 [6 favorites]

In combination with the down coat, good boots, scarf, etc: Silk thermals. I don't have this exact set but I have several tops and bottoms. They easily fit under almost everything I own and help me stay warm (my down coat doesn't quite cover my legs so I really appreciate the extra coverage there).

If those don't look warm enough, the search term base layer will get you thicker options. Read the reviews - if people are using it to walk the dog, feed the cows, ski, hike or fish in bad weather, you're probably covered.

And you've inspired me to at least consider walking today. Brrrr.
posted by bunderful at 11:26 AM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would try a mall, they're usually dead. My rec center also has an indoor track, its usually dead. Maybe just try to find times where no one else is around?
posted by katypickle at 11:29 AM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

In my area, the parks and recreation department gives passes to allow people to walk in school buildings outside of school hours. Depending on your location, train stations or airports may also work.

But if it's above 10F and you don't have asthma, outdoors in proper gear probably is the option that's most likely to keep you happy.
posted by metasarah at 11:50 AM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Get winter gear. Walking outside in the freezing cold is invigorating.
posted by fshgrl at 11:52 AM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Indoor places to walk might include a large museum or convention center or college at an off time. Indoor tracks do exist but access is often difficult to the public.

Another outside place designed for walking that is required to keep paths cleared would be a local botanical garden.
posted by sciencegeek at 11:58 AM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

For gear, I also highly recommend getting a cheap pair of ski pants that go on over your regular pants. I hate that freezing thighs problem when walking outside, and getting the ski pants totally saved me when I had a mile+ walking commute in winter weather for a few years.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:00 PM on December 30, 2017

Definitely get some toasty winter gear and go outside! One of the most important things for winter walking is to have the clothing layer that's right next to your skin not be cotton. You want a sweat wicking fabric like you'd wear to the gym, otherwise the sweaty cotton shirt just clings to your torso, making you colder than you'd be otherwise.

I personally have had better luck with a knee-length bike shorts/knee high sock combo under warm pants than with 2 (or more) full pairs of pants or long undies or leggings, but I have some chronic pain issues with my hips and knees that make less flexible clothing layers pretty painful to wear.

Otherwise, you could try your local YMCA? The one by me closes down its big huge basketball court at certain hours of the day for circular track running/walking and is pretty evenly split between walkers and runners. It's not particularly diverting to walk in circles but maybe combined with some audiobooks it might not be so bad.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:30 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I live in northern Minnesota, and frequently walk outside all year round--even today, I'm considering it because why not. It can be cold in the below-zeroes, but after walking briskly for fifteen minutes, I feel great, almost always. I have to stick to the 15 minutes rule before I give up and say it's too cold, but I'll give up my fogged up glasses before that.

Here's what I wear on super cold days:

Base layer: Comfy t-shirt under union-suit longjohns (duofold when it's really cold).Thick wool socks.

Second layer: fluffy sweater (wool usually, but I also have this fluffy fleece type thing that does the trick as well--holds body-warmed air close to my body), and windproof fleece-type pants. Maybe a big hoodie over that in case I want a hood.

Third layer: Hat that covers the ears, neck gaiter or scarf, mittens (double layered when really cold, but honestly I usually don't have cold hands after I've been walking awhile; NOT gloves), wind-proof shell type jacket. Decent boots with treads, often supplemented when necessary with ice spikes.
posted by RedEmma at 12:50 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

nth'ing the get yourself the proper gear. Another option might be a hospital. My local hospital's main public hall is 1 km, and other hospitals nearby have even longer halls. I know they actually support people walking there during winter because they told me when I was pregnant with my second child.
posted by mumimor at 1:35 PM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Also yoga videos at home - not the same but it is a form of exercise that’s particularly good for anxiety - all the breathing and concentration.
posted by penguin pie at 1:48 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Depends where you are. In several Canadian cities you can walk for kilometers without stepping outside – Toronto, Montreal, Calgary.
posted by zadcat at 2:29 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. This is a true statement assuming your local temperature stays above -20F or so. Just get the clothes you need. It is really very liberating.

The other issue is slipperiness and falling. If you mostly have snow & areas that are cleared of snow, just boots or some shoes with a good tread are enough. But if you are dealing with sheet ice (most common when the weather hoovers just above & below freezing) then you may want to look into screw shoes or yaktrax or equivalent.

Screw shoes: 1 2

posted by flug at 2:53 PM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've been weak with illness but as soon as I am better I am going to make a labrynth in the snow again to walk. If you don't have enough land to have a personal labrynth you can appropriate a bit of unused parkland. There may be labyrinths (indoor or outdoor) already in your community.
posted by saucysault at 2:55 PM on December 30, 2017

I have a winter enthusiast for a dog, so we spend a lot of time outside in the very cold. Here are my go-tos if I'm going to be outside for an hour when it's really cold and/or snowy.

Eddie Bauer makes these great nylon pants with a fleece lining that are toasty without a base layer down to about 20F (some long johns keep them comfy down to 3F in my experience -- and that's the coldest it's been since I got them, so they may be ok at even colder temps).

You definitely need warm, waterproof boots with grip and warm hiking socks inside.

A buff to keep your face warm and keep the cold air from sneaking down your neck.

I layer a thin fleece sweatshirt, a fleece hoodie (meant as outerwear), an insulating vest, and a windproof/water-resistant but not overwhelmingly warm coat.

I wear the hood of the fleece up and wear my hat on top of that (beanie when it's not that cold, ridiculous fake-fur trapper hat when it is).

On my hands, I wear cheap-o drugstore stretchy gloves as an inner layer and giant ski mittens as an outer layer (I occasionally need full dexterity for my dog, so want to be able to take off the mittens and still have some coverage).
posted by snaw at 4:36 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I’ve been struggling with this myself. I also really hate the cold. What I’ve come up with so far.

Walking the stairs in my house while carrying weights. Doing this until I am panting. Whew that knocked my anxiety down quick. I was using 10 lbs (2 x 5lbs weights).

Trying to get cute/fun layers and cold weather accessories. Only works so/so so far because omg I hate cold weather so much.

Stop making it such a big deal in my head. Dumb luck would have it where I really needed to get a prescription before the pharmacy closed and my car battery died because I left the dome light on. Pharmacy was a 10 min walk and I had 18 minutes Until they closed. Not nearly enough to find help to jump my car. So I walked. It was 15 degrees out, I was only dressed for driving to the store, so I had cold weather clothes on, but not walking cold weather clothes. But. It. Wasn’t. So. Bad. Oh I was cold, and my thighs were chilly by the time I got there (skinny jeans with no layer underneath). But it was so not bad that I felt okay walking home rather than waiting for a friend or Uber. (Of course we’re down to -6 and I haven’t had a chance to actually dress for the cold and repeat.)
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:18 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I agree with others that if you CAN dress for the weather, that's your best option. I find that being able to enjoy being outdoors in winter makes me feel way less trapped and antsy.

That said, sometimes footing is just terrible no matter what you're wearing. Do you walk fast or slow! If slow, is there a large church in your area that you could walk around the interior? Schools or municipal administrative buildings could also be good. A big hotel or office building, you could walk down a hallway, take the stairs up one level, and walk down the hall in the other direction (sounds pretty darn dull though).
posted by spindrifter at 6:50 AM on December 31, 2017

I'm a librarian. Last year a student kept walking around in the library, which is not very big. He told me it helped him to concentrate. Is there a large library you could walk around in like that? Or maybe a church? Or a tall building with stairs you could walk up?

I generally walk about three miles every morning and I live in a mild climate so can do it easily most days. I get grumpy if I don't. We are having a cold spell (yeah, I know, I used to live in the frozen north and mid-20s is warm, but it's cold for us) for the next few days and I may just walk around the library for 45 minutes every morning.
posted by mareli at 7:07 AM on December 31, 2017

nthing warm winter gear. I got out yesterday and walked the lightly snow covered paths in a local park for a couple of hours with a friend and it did both of us a world of good. My waterproof Vibram soled hiking shoes + wool socks were good for that light snow. I'm looking for waterproof hiking boots so I can get out when the snow starts piling up.

I'm also learning to cross country ski next year (Happy New Year everyone!). Also look at snow shoeing - some friends are enthusiastic about snow shoes to the point of making their own.
posted by jointhedance at 7:12 AM on December 31, 2017

« Older Help my son draw space rockets and dragons   |   It's not Alicia Dragoon Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.