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Playing outside when it's chilly

In collaboration with Geneviève O’Gleman, nutritionist and host of Savourer, ICI télé 

Needless to say, our Quebec winters are synonymous with cold, snow, and a runny nose. While some folks curse this season, others are overjoyed at the idea of seeing the sky fill with flakes.

If you’re in the first category, that's no reason to stay cooped up. With the following tricks, we challenge you to go and play outside and even promise that you’ll have fun!

Come on! Shake a leg! Let’s don our toques and mittens and enjoy the winter.

© Sépaq

Golden rule number 1

Wear good warm clothes

Dress in layers. Lots of layers. This is probably the most important rule of all. The principle is simple: you add or remove a garment depending on the intensity of your physical effort and according to the winter conditions.

Rely on items made of synthetic fibers, such as fleece or polyester, which are fabrics known to breathe fully and dry more quickly. If you have a merino wool sweater, now is the time to use it. In addition to having all the properties of synthetic fabrics, merino wool does not absorb odors, which is absolutely fantastic.

Folks who are perpetually chilly should bring hand or foot warmers (such as Hot Pads).

Finally, make sure your boots don’t feel like a vice by wearing suitable stockings and by not tying your shoelaces too tight.

Rule number two

Shake a leg!

You’re going out with the kids to make a snowman in the freezing cold weather? Why not start by doing some jumping jacks? You'll be surprised at how quickly your body will warm up. And your cardiovascular system will get a good workout too. Killing two birds with one stone!

A series of shuffle steps, a brisk gait, or even small jumps on the spot are all simple movements that will warm you up and certainly make the kids chuckle.

Also remember to wiggle your toes and fingers to stimulate the bloodflow and bring heat to your extremities.

Mathieu Lachapelle | © Sépaq
Parc national du Mont-Tremblant
Parc national du Mont-Tremblant Renaud Robert | © Sépaq

Genevieve's advice

Rule number three: stay hydrated

In cold weather, it’s really important to stay well hydrated. Dehydration can increase the risk of hypothermia or frostbite and increase fatigue. Paradoxically, you get less thirsty when it's cold and tend to stop drinking to avoid going to the bathroom and having to take off all your clothes. Long live the multi-layer system! So, overcome your discomfort and make sure to drink nonstop. Herbal tea, vegetable or chicken broth, soup, or simply warm lemon or mint water will provide both comfort and hydration. It’s better to avoid tea and coffee, which have an unfortunate tendency to dehydrate us further through their diuretic effect, resulting in the elimination of water. Don't hesitate to add a little spice, a pinch of cayenne, or a few dashes of hot sauce to your soup. These ingredients will cause a little global warming inside your ski ensemble!

When hiking or during prolonged outdoor activities, always leave with two water bottles, one with cold water to quench your thirst and another with a hot drink to warm up. A thermos bottle is a must. The cold drink will remain cold without freezing and the hot drink will not lose heat.

A hydration bladder is also very convenient for moisturizing when hands are otherwise occupied by ski poles or walking sticks. Have you ever been unable to drink because your hydration bladder has frozen? To prevent this, get one that’s insulated with a sheath to protect both the bladder and the tube so as to avoid carrying around a huge frozen stick!

Rule number four: eat high-protein foods

The best food advice for staying warm is to nibble nonstop. During digestion, a phenomenon called food thermogenesis takes place, i.e., the body produces heat as it digests. The effect is felt more markedly when it’s very cold. Carry protein foods, such as nuts, or high-calorie foods, such as chocolate or almond paste, in your coat pockets. When you're cold, take a few bites and you’ll feel the effect in a jiffy. 

Nancy Guignard | © Sépaq
Audrée Larocque | © Sépaq

Rule number 5

Protect your skin

It’s very important to cover your face as much as possible to avoid frostbite. You can cover the tip of your nose with a neck cover and warm up with the heat of your own breath. And if it's really cold, why not dare to wear ski goggles? You'll see… you'll feel invincible even when it’s icy cold!

Also, you should not forget to moisturize and protect your skin, as the harshness of winter tends to dry it out. Don't forget your moisturizer and also think about sunscreen. The winter sun can be treacherous, and it’s essential to protect yourself from its rays even in the cold season. Also opt for a good lip balm to avoid chafing.

The rule that makes all the difference

Appreciate the hygge

Do you know what hygge means? It’s the Danish art of living that invites us to wrap ourselves in gentle warmth during the harsh winter months.

We guarantee that your outing in the great outdoors will make you appreciate the comfort and warmth of your home even more. What could be better than wrapping up in a big blanket and enjoying a delicious hot drink in good company beside a fireplace?

You have to admit that all these little pleasures are so much better when our cheeks are rosy with the cold after an activity in the great outdoors!
So, are you ready to take out your woolies, start up the slow cooker, and shake a leg outside?

Remember: don’t ask too much of yourself. Like any other discipline, a love of winter comes with practice. Follow your own pace and that of your children. A simple 15 minutes of fresh air is good for your health and your body will thank you for it.

Geneviève O'Gleman

About Geneviève O’Gleman

Geneviève O’Gleman is at the helm of the Savourer show on Radio-Canada and editor of the web magazine She has just launched her recipe book Fast food santé, a best seller available throughout Quebec.

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