If you’re like most people, you don’t have a problem finding reasons to skip your workout. Winter weather can be the perfect excuse not to exercise — after all, who wants to go jogging or even walking in the ice and snow? Not only is it cold and unpleasant, it could be dangerous — what if you slip and fall?
When the days are short, gloomy, and cold, it’s difficult even to find the motivation to get up and go to the gym. But just because winter is with us doesn’t mean you should slack off on your exercise routine. It may be cold out, but you still need to exercise to protect yourself from heart disease and control your weight — especially since you may have indulged in one too many holiday treats. Exercise can also help you fight the winter blues and improve your sleep. Stay active in the winter by embracing seasonal sports, joining a gym or amateur sports league, trying some exercise videos, or even vigorously cleaning your house.
Lots of folks dislike winter because it’s cold and snowy, but just as many love winter for those same reasons. Playing outside with your kids, spouse, or friends is a great way to change your perspective on the coldest season while burning some calories and getting some exercise. You can’t make snow angels, build a snowman, or start an epic snowball fight in the middle of the summer, after all. These activities burn between 200 and 300 calories an hour, on average — and they’re not so strenuous that you can’t participate in them if you’re already taking drugs like Liptor or Plavix for high cholesterol or heart disease. Of course, if you have heart problems, talk to your doctor before you take up any new activities.
You don’t have to be competitive to enjoy seasonal sports like skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing — although if you are, you can always test your prowess in competition against other amateur athletes. Downhill skiing can burn more than 400 calories an hour, and snowboarding can burn up to 300 calories an hour or more. Snowshoeing can burn up to 600 calories in an hour. And all of these activities get you out into the fresh air and sunshine, helping to counteract the mood-lowering effects of shorter days and longer, colder nights.
Join a Gym or Sports Team
If it’s too cold to exercise outside, why not exercise inside? Find a gym close to your home or place of work and make time to use the treadmills, elliptical trainers, rowing machines, or exercise bikes there. Have a personal trainer show you how to lift weights, or find an indoor pool and swim laps regularly throughout the winter.
You can breathe new life into your exercise routine by trying something new, signing up for a fitness class, or joining a sports team. It might be hard to find the motivation to get up in the dark, cold hours of the winter morning and go workout, but if your teammates are counting on you to show up for practice or a game, it’ll be a lot easier.
If you’re not interested in team sports, look for a local fun run you can join — these events are typically 5k or about 3.1 miles, and you don’t have to run the whole way; you’re allowed to walk.
Try Some Workout Videos
Workout videos are a great way to stay active, especially when you’re traveling to visit family and friends. Use your smart phone or other mobile device to stream some interesting workout videos. Buy a new workout DVD or two to try at home. Or stream free yoga classes online. Once you’ve learned some basic calisthenics or aerobics moves, do them while you’re watching TV, waiting for your morning coffee to brew, or any other time when you have a few minutes free.
Work Inside and Out
Most people forget that physical labor — even of the mild variety — is a form of exercise, too. You can burn calories and stay fit by sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, or doing laundry. Since you’re going to be inside anyway, stay fit by investing some time in giving your house a good deep cleaning. Move your furniture to clean beneath it; vacuum the drapes; dust the baseboards. Even folding and putting away laundry counts toward the CDC’s recommended physical activity requirements.
Working outside the house can help you get exercise, too. If there’s no snow in your area, do yard work instead. If there is snow, shoveling it can be a great form of exercise — as long as your doctor says it’s okay. It’s easy to overexert yourself shoveling snow.
Cold winter weather may make you want to hibernate for several months, but that’s the worst thing you can do for your health. Make sure you get plenty of exercise, indoors and out, throughout the winter months, so you can stay fit and healthy all year round.