Some of my clients recently asked for strategies to increase movement during the holidays. They expressed concerns about diminished activity due to numerous video conferences. My own client sessions have become less active since I started hosting them on Zoom. I still demonstrate exercises, but mostly I supervise clients completing their workouts at their homes while I stand at my treadmill desk screen.

Note the operative words: stand and treadmill desk. Grab every opportunity to stand instead of sit. If you have an adjustable desk and can stand for at least half your work time, great. Build opportunities to walk during work meetings or phone calls. My hiking buddy actually started a conference as we returned to our cars after a recent hike. Increase daily movement however you can.

Increase movement. Our home gym is equipped with a Versa Climber, elliptical, rower, Jacob's Ladder, and (right) treadmill where my second work station is set up. I write close to half my blog posts while walking on it.
Our home gym is equipped with a Versa Climber, elliptical, rower, Jacob’s Ladder, and (right) treadmill where my second work station is set up. I write close to half my blog posts while walking on it.

Below I present suggestions for moving more, encouraging wellness at home, and maintaining hiking mileage during winter.

Increase Movement During Breaks

Sometimes improving your situation and getting unstuck is as simple as having the right person to mirror and guide you and provide accountability. If you're interested in receiving customized coaching, contact
Sometimes improving your situation and getting unstuck is as simple as having the right person to mirror and guide you as well as provide accountability. If you’re interested in receiving customized coaching, contact
  1. Set an alarm. Remind yourself to move every hour. Use five minutes to stretch, toss laundry in the drier, place dishes in the dishwasher, or vacuum.
  2. Play music. Vigorously dance to encourage blood flow. Not only is this fun, but it will help minimize brain fog and maximize alertness.
  3. Incorporate movement at your desk. Set up a work station at your treadmill, use an exercycle, or try a step-in-place device. Set up stretching bands, TRX loops or a pullup bar and grab a few repetitions as a break.
  4. Plan short breaks between video sessions. Grab a 15-minute walk in the neighborhood, hug your pet or child, get a healthy snack, or sit outside in the sun and ground barefoot. (Yes, even in the dead of winter I include barefoot time whenever it’s not freezing, snowing, or pouring)
The author grounding on December 19, a rare sunny winter day when the sun was out.
The author grounding on December 19, a rare sunny winter day when the sun was out.

Take Additional Steps Toward Health at Home

  1. Keep water nearby at all times. Divide your body weight (in pounds) by two and try to consume that number of ounces every day. A person who weighs 150 pounds should shoot for drinking 75 ounces each day. Add to that if you’re exercising vigorously for an extended period of time (i.e. hiking). Once you empty your water bottle, get up and fill it. The tactile reminder will encourage you to move more often.
  2. Make it hard to get easily-consumed, high caloric density snacks. Even better, don’t buy them; once you bring junk food in the house, you’ll either eat it or throw it out. Have ready-made hummus, veggies, hard-boiled eggs, sliced fruit, or nuts to eat instead.
  3. Include a few options for managing stress. Try taking deep, cleansing breaths whenever you feel stressed, trying the suggestions above, or simply stare out the window and let your mind wander.
  4. Nap! If you find yourself dozing off or getting increasingly frustrated and you have the luxury of twenty minutes, grab a catnap. Much better than using caffeine or sugar to temporarily provide a boost.
How To Increase Movement During High-Stress and Winter
Spot the dog! Ajax, peeking back at me from along Surprise Creek Trail on Cougar Mountain.

Maintain Mileage and Gain During Winter Months

If you enjoy hiking year-round and you want to maintain your mileage and gain during cold and snowy weather, try the following suggestions.

  1. Explore more-frequented trails near the city. This time of year, Pacific Northwest Trails are relatively empty. Cougar Mountain and Tiger Mountain both have tons of great low-elevation trails that provide wonderful hiking opportunities without much snow.
  2. Consider doing “laps” on a lower elevation hike. Cougar Mountain, for example, has plenty of miles of trails that you can link into longer outings. On a hike two weeks ago, I completed the Big Tree Ridge Trail twice for over nine miles and 2700 feet of elevation gain. It all counts toward maintaining your hiking fitness.
  3. Plan hikes with work companions or, like my buddy did two weeks ago, start a conference call toward the end of your outing to squeeze fitness into your hectic day.
  4. Carry a pack at least once a week to maintain in-season fitness levels so that when you start ramping up you don’t have to start from scratch.
  5. Complete urban workouts with a pack. Hikes are not the only way to carry weight! Walk to the library to check out or return books, or visit the grocery store and carry groceries home in a pack. I seldom use my car unless I have to drive more than a few miles. I combine local errands with dog walking and pack carrying so we’re both happy. Added benefit? We’re doing our part to save fuel and promote clean green living.
Descending the Big Tree Ridge trail through some ... not-so-big trees. Switchbacks indicate STEEPNESS.
Descending the Big Tree Ridge trail through some … not-so-big trees. Switchbacks indicate STEEPNESS.

Published by Courtenay Schurman

Co-author of The Outdoor Athlete (2009) and Train to Climb Mt. Rainier or Any High Peak DVD (2002), author of Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills/conditioning chapter 4 (3 editions), and Peak Performance column for the Mountaineers Mag (2014-present). Member of PNWA, SCBWI, EPIC. Served on the steering committee for WOTS (2019-present). Completed UW Certificate program for Children's Literature and Memoir. Co-owner of Body Results, Inc. in Seattle. Climb leader with Seattle Mountaineers for over 15 years. Volunteer at Woodland Park Zoo since 2014.

6 replies on “How To Increase Movement During High-Stress and Winter”

  1. I find your weekly blog a reservoir for fresh perspectives. As I read, I linked in my mind to a prior entry about “The One Thing”. In that blog entry or a related one, you shared the Photo-a-Day; I am finding this a rich experience & gaining an appreciation of how this can be an approach in many areas of living. The ripples are flowing. I am continuing on with my year end project of reflecting, reading an intriguing book “Becoming Animal” by David Abram, considering options for tweaks in the coming year, and enhancing my One Thing organization system for noting ideas & actions and setting priorities. It is all like a juggler – but also the ebb and flow of the tides. This blog entry stimulated me to take out my Self-Care list, review and add. Thanks bunches!

    1. You bet, Margie! I see you’re doing a little “catching up on reading” at the end of the year. Appreciate the comment. As you note, the blog posts are meant to integrate into a whole (at least, that’s what I’m hoping it will do for me! laughing) So wonderful that you’re musing and reflecting on the information and customizing for yourself. Onward, upward and forward, my friend!

  2. Two posts for the price of one this week; Christmas has come early!
    This is a very helpful set of suggestions to “embrace” the darker, wetter, and colder months — Thank You!! I was tempted to add: purchase a “vacation home” in the southern hemisphere but that comes with a few strings attached…
    So, I will stick with some of your pointers for now; in particular, incorporate movement at your desk (modify my workstation for step-in-place and standing desk); that will take care of my 2022 new year resolution.
    As my “office” is up a flight of 14 stairs, I need to go up and down these to do anything else than working; at times, I purposely “forget” something downstairs so I have to go and get it.
    As for maintaining mileage during the winter months, I am lucky. I have slowly (and, early on, VERY reluctantly) started to look forward to being “out in the weather”. Key for me was (1) ensuring I had optimal gear+skills for the hike (shell, layers, microspikes, snowshoes, gaiters, dry spares, Leukotape, nutrition/hydration, etc.), then (2) all supplies in my car to quickly regain a sense of comfort when returning to the trailhead (more dry clothes, towels, container to store my wet gear, a way to quickly make a hot drink if so inclined, etc.), and finally and crucially (3) learn to LOVE being out in the elements… not easy when one grew up in Provence and on the French Riviera! … but it turned that NOT going out became way more painful and depressing than being drenched to the core. Tomorrow’s forecast says 100% chance of rain.. YEAH! – I’ll be on the trail by 8:30am at the latest to hear all the pitter-patter of the raindrops on my shell and in the trees, to carefully step across small creeks on slick rocks, to slalom around muddy spots, to slowly and stoically accept the fact that — no matter how good my gear is — I’ll start getting drenched at some point… while following trails that are typically overcrowded but now appear blessedly deserted (a true luxury).

    1. For me as well — seeing what readers post is always a great joy for me, too! Keep ’em coming.

      The French Riviera, wow! I bet you have tons of great stories as well as memories! I have to call myself a “fair-weather” hiker at the core, but last year I started all-weather hiking and found the lack of crowds, the sheer beauty, and the “discoveries” waiting to be had in winter were just too much to keep missing. I still obviously prefer going when it’s dry and sunny, but seeing what a favorite trail looks like in all seasons carries a delight, too. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve hike! What a great tradition!

  3. Great ideas and habits to have. Not always easy to go hiking on cold and snowy day, but think how you will feel after it.

    It looks like you’re moving all the time. Pretty cool that you write most of your blog while moving or doing something. Great inspiration, blog.

    1. I do try. I definitely feel better when I’m limber and mobile. Sitting is proving to be just as bad for long-term health as smoking was years ago, and eating low-fat/high-sugar (from the 80’s and 90’s) is proving to be now. Come to think of it, many of the US Government’s recommendations have later proven to be … well, quite awful advice. But let’s not go there… Thanks for the comments and be well!

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