The weather’s getting colder and the days are getting shorter. With the sun hanging low in the southern sky, and sunsets getting earlier and earlier, we’re all getting far less sunlight here in our northern city. Less sunlight means that serotonin in your brain is less active. Serotonin raises your mood, and without it, you’re left feeling tired and hungry. It’s no wonder all you want to do in the wintertime is get cozy and eat snacks. But that’s not the best option for your health—winter is long!

What can you do to resist the urge to hibernate?

First of all, soak in as much sunlight you can. Alberta winters, while cold, are usually very sunny. Try to spend 20 or 30 minutes outside each day, or even near a bright window.

Next, try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. It might feel difficult to get motivated, but we’ve got four major tips for you:

Embrace winter and go outside. Winter is a part of our lives. Short of moving far away, we can’t avoid it. So get into it! Try a winter sport. Skating, skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing are all great ways to exercise and have fun. Don’t have the equipment for any of those things? Just go sledding — you can get a crazy carpet at the dollar store! You’ll have a blast on the way down, and just think of all the exercise you’ll get lugging the toboggan back up the hill. And, barring all of these exciting winter activities, remember that even shoveling snow counts as exercise, and you have to do it anyway.

Take up swimming. If you really can’t stand to be outside when it’s cold, swimming is a great fitness option. It’s an excellent form of cardiovascular activity that tones muscle and builds strength. You won’t have to be out in the elements, and you can soak those muscles in a hot tub afterwards as a reward. Whether you’re swimming laps or taking an aqua fitness class, hitting the pool is a great workout choice year-round.

Register in a new fitness program. Renew your motivation for fitness by trying a new program. If you have to register for a whole session, you are committing yourself, and it will be easier to stay motivated. You’ll meet new people, and you can watch your fitness and strength improve week by week. It’s the perfect excuse to get out from under your blankets on the couch and do something to improve your health.

Get a membership to stay committed. Finding a place to swim, work out, and try different fitness programs is the easy part. The YMCA of Northern Alberta has four health and fitness centres in Edmonton, and a membership includes access to the pool and hot tubs, swimming lessons, aquatic fitness classes, sports and recreation programs, access to the workout centre, and over 80 different fitness programs. Resist the urge to hibernate. You’ll feel so much better about winter if you do.

This article is sponsored by the YMCA of Northern Alberta. Since 1907, the YMCA of Northern Alberta has been working to support strong kids, healthy families, and thriving communities. From supporting people in their health and wellness to providing important community outreach programs, the YMCA is more than a fitness centre… it’s the centre of your community. With four health, fitness, and aquatics centres in Edmonton, there’s one near you. Try a membership with a free 7-day trial and find your place in the Y community. Visit