Five ways for students to have fun while staying physical during Winnipeg winters


Winnipeggers take shots on net at the outdoor rink in front of Festival Stage at The Forks on Saturday, January 14. Neil Noonan /THE PROJECTOR

Winnipeg students should prioritize fun while trying to stay active during the winter. This is the advice Winnipeg health experts give to keep people motivated in their fitness routines.

Mike Iwanchuk, the director of athletic training and head strength and conditioning coach at United Therapies Strive in Winnipeg, always starts his program planning with what the person enjoys.

“Fun is absolutely important in anything we do,” Iwanchuk said. “If they don’t enjoy it, they won’t do it.”

Iwanchuk also emphasizes the importance of doing things outside during the winter, specifically for students. Being in the classroom for most of the day severely decreases a student’s exposure to sunlight, especially during short winter days. This lowers vitamin D levels and disrupts the body’s natural rhythm, Iwanchuk said.

“Going outside can suck in Winnipeg winters,” Iwanchuk said. “If you’re going to dress up to go outside, make sure it’s for something you enjoy doing.”

Taylor Devlin, a community wellness facilitator with the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority, said students shouldn’t put pressure on themselves to do typical exercises.

“Many people don’t enjoy the idea of grueling it out in a gym every day,” Devlin said. “That can absolutely turn people off of participating in physical activity all together.”

Daniel Phalen, a geographic information systems technology student at Red River College, believes being physically active doesn’t just mean playing sports and doing recreational activities, but also taking the stairs every chance he gets.

“I just walk around campus,” said Phalen. “I do laps of stairs during breaks between classes.”

Winnipeggers skate and play hockey on the Red River Mutual Trail at The Forks on Saturday, January 14. Neil Noonan /THE PROJECTOR

RRC students can use these five suggestions from Iwanchuk and Devlin to stay physically active while having fun during the winter.

Cross-Country Skiing – A great aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. There are well-conditioned trails all over Winnipeg and cheap rentals available at FortWhyte Alive and the Windsor Park Nordic Centre. Students can also sign up and take lessons if they would like to learn.

Snowshoeing – Although very similar to cross-country skiing in terms of locations and rentals, snowshoes give participants the option to go off the beaten path and blaze their own trail. There is a lot to explore at Birds Hill Provincial Park.

Skating – Whether it’s on the Red River Mutual Trail at The Forks or at your community outdoor rink, skating is another fun aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity.

Sledding – Going down the hill is the fun part. Dragging (or lifting) your sled back up the hill is where the physical activity comes in.

Playing in the Snow – Sometimes physical activity can be disguised as fun, and getting together with friends to build snowmen, carve out a fort, or throw snowballs are great examples. Being out in the sun and socializing have health benefits as well.