Crushing Bugs and Slopes for a Healthier Winter

How to stay fit, healthy and close to home this winter. Words :: Molly Hurford.

Some good news: It’s easier than ever to get healthy from the comfort of your own home while supporting local businesses. So even if you’re not about to head into a restaurant or yoga studio anytime soon, there are plenty of options. Here we explore what you can do to boost your immunity while crushing your sporting goals.



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Six Focused Breaths: Meditation

“You know that feeling you get when you’re driving into Collingwood for a weekend and your shoulders soften and you’re just breathing a little easier? That’s what meditation can do for you all the time,” says Amie Young, owner of Sanctuari in Collingwood. Her studio offers everything from meditation classes online and in real life to reiki, sound baths, yoga nidra and chakra work, but she says meditation can be quick and simple. “You don’t have to have a certain experience or knowledge to be a super-spiritual being or to get a benefit from meditation,” she adds.


Photo: Dingzeyu Li via Unsplash


“If you can just sit and take six focused breaths, you can shift your whole day. Notice what happens as you’re sitting or standing or lying there. Feel the breath come into the body, and maybe put a hand where that breath feels like it’s landing. Breathe into the space between your hands. It really helps boost awareness and helps you breathe more deeply.”

Oil Change & Tuneup for Health: Massage Therapy

Massage can help you locate tight or sore spots that you may have missed otherwise, explains registered massage therapist Gavin Buehler, co-owner of Fox Integrated Therapy in Collingwood. It can also increase circulation and relax the central nervous system, which is more important than ever this winter. He recommends massage therapy monthly—“It’s like an oil change and tuneup for your body.” Or more often if you’re working through an injury. If you prefer the do-it-yourself route, keep it light.

“Many people try to fix tight spots or injuries by hitting the foam roller really hard, and then doing it again a few hours later,” he explains. “But that doesn’t give your body time to heal—it’s so easy to overdo.” He likes using lacrosse balls as self-massage tools to (gently) get into smaller areas and target specific muscles. “You can also gently do a light full-body foam roll session to increase circulation, which is fantastic,” he adds.



Photo: Nadine Primeau via Unsplash


Eat the Rainbow: Veggie-Packed Meals

Research has shown that a diet rich in leafy greens and a full rainbow of colours can boost immunity and energy, thanks to all of the micronutrients and prebiotic-rich fibre that feeds good gut bacteria. That’s a big reason Karla Findlay created the Market Made Lunch Club, which offers four plant-based lunch options and delivers the chosen two to your door in Collingwood every other Tuesday. She’s also a fan of making a big pot of vegetable-packed soup for easy lunches all week, especially in winter. “Salads can be boring, and they can be really unsatisfying,” she adds. “I like to always have a bean, lentil or grain like quinoa to fill you up. I don’t stick to the usual lettuce; I add different greens. And I also really love roasting vegetables and putting those in my salad.”

Chugging Chaga: Health-Boosting Smoothies

The easiest way to get all of your major nutrients required for optimal recovery is in smoothie form: It’s delicious and the right ingredients can boost your immunity while speeding up recovery from a hard day’s winter shred. Holistic nutritionist and owner of Collingwood’s Press Market Sara Johnston is a huge fan of paying close attention to health over the winter. “Right now, I love chaga protein powder. Chaga—a mushroom that grows on birch trees—can help to support your immune system thus reducing your risk of becoming sick,” she says.


Chaga growing on a birch tree. Photo: Wikimedia Commons


Johnston recommends experimenting with your blender and making warm smoothies: “You can absolutely make a hot beverage if you let it blend it long enough. I’d strongly recommend doing it for a hot chocolate–style smoothie.”

A Few Minutes a Day: Yoga

“Yoga helps with mobility and coordination, and it helps people recover from injury,” Shirlee Williams, yoga instructor and owner of Buddha Rider, explains. And it doesn’t take much: A few minutes a day can make a big difference, though getting into a virtual or real-life class for a full session regularly is important too. “If you don’t have much time, run through a sun salutation as many times as you want. It’s super-easy and moves the entire body,” she says. If you prefer a home practice, Buddha Rider is putting every class online. Williams recommends carving out a space in your home for your practice. “It doesn’t take up a lot of space, but have a space for your mat, maybe add a candle or some incense or flowers. Whatever makes you feel good.”

Liftoff: ML Blue Mountains Winter Issue Out Now