Sageborn is based out of Bozeman, Montana, where we have long months in which to enjoy the beauty of winter. While the aesthetic of snow-capped peaks and drifted pines is alluring, the reality can be a bit of a challenge to tackle. Moving regularly during the cold winter season is important for body and mind, so we’re here to share some ideas about the benefits of movement during winter, and offer tips for all ages and abilities to keep moving both indoors and outdoors.
Why movement is important in winter
Montana is a long way north of the equator, which gives us glorious, extended hours of sunshine in the summer but shorter days and longer nights in winter. Less physical exposure to sunshine can make us feel a little withdrawn, fatigued, and even depressed. If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Fortunately, venturing outdoors can help relieve those symptoms while providing us with many mind-body benefits.
Moving regularly during the cold winter season is important for body and mind, so we’re here to share some ideas about the benefits of movement during winter, and offer tips for all ages and abilities to keep moving both indoors and outdoors.
Spending time in nature is good for our overall mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Simply taking a step outside and breathing the fresh air can boost your energy, clear your mind, and improve your mood while reducing feelings of stress. Being outdoors also lowers blood pressure, increases vitamin D levels, supports a healthy immune system, and even enhances feelings of creativity. When possible, it’s good to spend at least fifteen minutes outside every day during the winter to help refresh and restore body and mind.
If you tend to feel the effects of limited sunlight, a “Happy Light” or sun therapy lamp can help rebalance your body’s natural circadian rhythms, increase your focus, and boost your mood.
Walking in winter
Movement in winter can be as straightforward as taking a walk around the neighborhood. Thanks to the vision and collaboration of our local nonprofit Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT) and city officials, Bozeman offers miles and miles (nearly 50 miles, to be specific) of trails interconnecting within city limits. Click here for a trail map. These gravel and dirt trails are usually packed down by walkers, joggers, fatbikes, and our four-legged companions during winter months.
Spending time in nature is good for our overall mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Simply taking a step outside and breathing the fresh air can boost your energy, clear your mind, and improve your mood while reducing feelings of stress.
When we take a walk outside, whether alone or with company, that simple action of resetting our day can help us release future worries or past regrets and simply be present in the moment. We recommend practicing walking meditations, focusing on receiving through each of your senses. Feel the crisp air on your skin and the solid or snowy ground beneath your feet. Look closely at the unique, elegant, delicate icicles forming on the trees, and take in the smells of plants — the warm, bright fragrance of evergreens, and the dark, earthy richness of sleeping bushes and grasses. Practice letting thoughts come and go like small clouds in the clear sky of your mind.
Ways to move outdoors
When practiced outdoors, both lighter and more energy-intensive exercises can help increase our happiness, energy levels, and metabolism. Getting moving might feel most appealing on a bluebird day, but with the right clothing and gear, we can get outside in any weather, stay warm, and have a great time!
Being outdoors also lowers blood pressure, increases vitamin D levels, supports a healthy immune system, and even enhances feelings of creativity. When possible, it’s good to spend at least fifteen minutes outside every day during the winter to help refresh and restore body and mind.
Cross country skiing is a wonderful way to experience the beauty of winter, all across the Gallatin Valley and right into the mountains. Bozeman Ski Foundation (BSF) grooms trails for both skate and classic skiers at multiple locations right downtown, and many more miles of dedicated cross country skiing access can be found at Bozeman Creek (also known as Sourdough), Hyalite Canyon, and Crosscut Mountain Sports Center by Bridger Bowl.
When conditions are right, Beall and Southside Parks offer the chance to ice skate or play a little pickup hockey, and the two full-sized rinks at Haynes Pavillion provide skate rentals and beautifully smooth ice all winter long.
For those craving mountain views, vert, and a little speed, downhill skiing and snowboarding at Bridger Bowl or Big Sky provide both dedicated enthusiasts and first-timers with the feeling of pure, childlike joy from December through April. The bold (and prepared) might choose their own adventure through alpine touring or splitboarding. For all backcountry pursuits, be sure to read up on daily snow and avalanche conditions through the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, and plan your route ahead of time to enjoy terrain within your level of experience. Interested in getting into the backcountry in winter? Check out GNFAC’s calendar of upcoming avalanche education events.
For a complete guide to skiing around Southwest Montana check out The Last Best Ski guidebook and interactive website.
The M trail, Drinking Horse Trail, and Triple Tree Trail give hikers, snowshoers, and trail runners the chance to gain a little elevation and enjoy views of the whole valley. Depending on trail conditions, traction aids like YakTrax or microspikes can give your shoes or boots a better grip and give you a boost of winter confidence.
Indoor movement for winter well being
When the roads are covered in ice or snow, or the temperature is too cold to comfortably venture out, we can find ways to move indoors and keep our energy flowing. Consider creating a clean, meditative space to dedicate to at-home exercises and practices. We can begin the day with gentle mind-body connection and movement through meditation rituals that may include sound healing, breathwork, or a round of sun salutations. Many apps and free Youtube videos offer different types of yoga flows and guided meditation — explore until you find one that speaks to you. Get your blood flowing with a virtual exercise class, power yoga, or even just dancing to your favorite music. Qigong and Tai Chi will help to move stuck energy. A gentle yoga class, such as yin yoga or yoga Nidra, can help release stress or anxiety in both the physical body and the mind — these two types of practice can be wonderful in the evening to wind down before sleep. For fun motivation and connection, tune into a studio class remotely with friends or family.
When the roads are covered in ice or snow, or the temperature is too cold to comfortably venture out, we can find ways to move indoors and keep our energy flowing.
Listen to your body
Most importantly, we recommend that you practice tuning into your physical body to notice what will best support your overall well being. This will likely change day to day, so it’s good to explore different types of movement while getting those regular doses of nature that our bodies crave. It’s our hope that you’ve found a new idea or two here to inspire you to get out (or stay in!), support a healthy flow of energy, and boost your happiness and overall wellbeing during winter.