Staying fit in winter? It’s nice to snuggle up in those flannel PJs, wrap yourself in your favorite thermal quilt, pop some popcorn, watch old movies by a flickering, warm fire, and relax until the first signs of spring. But is that really a healthy approach to winter? (OK, maybe once in a while, but not every single day!)
According to fitness expert Dino Nowak we need to stay active in the winter. Sure, we want to work off those holiday pounds we added from eating too much stuffing and fudge, but there are many other reasons to get active this winter. For example, working out can ward off those winter blahs.
And, according to Nowak, winter blues are quite common. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects close to 50 percent of people in the northern United States, though anyone living in colder climates where the sun isn’t out as much can suffer from it. Understandably, January and February are the worst months.
“By staying physically active, you’ll get those endorphins flowing through your body,” Nowak explains. “Also by getting outside, particularly in the afternoon when there is some kind of sunlight, you’ll help fight and can even prevent the onset of SAD.”
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
OK, it’s cold outside, but there’s still a great, big, beautiful, frosty world out there just waiting for you to join in the fun. Why not take a walk along the freshly snow-covered sidewalks?
“Basically anything physical you do in the snow is going to get you a workout because of the increased difficulty in moving,” explains Nowak, a Cooper Institute certified fitness coach. “This is a great challenge to your body and amps up your calorie burn.”
Of course, braving the cold shouldn’t be all workout and no play. Wendie Pett, author of Every Woman’s Guide to Personal Power, says it’s all about fun.
“Go outside and be active with your children,” she shares. “Play in the snow. Go cross country skiing. Just be a kid again!”
Here are some additional outdoor calorie-burning, fun-loving winter outdoor activities:
- Have a snowball fight with friends and family.
- Play tag football in the snow.
- Build a snowman or a snow woman—the bigger the better!
- Create a snow house with blocks of finely-packed snow for a cool pad—literally!
Outside Winter Workouts—These Snow Boots Were Made for Walking
Brrrr! Baby, it’s cold outside, but that’s no excuse to abandon your fitness walking routine. Walking in cold weather requires a little extra planning and preparation, but it’s well worth the effort. Just make sure you dress for it.
Layering T-Shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets gives you the freedom to easily remove layers as your body heats up during your workout, according to Nowak. The best selections are those made of synthetic fibers, because they provide good insulation while keeping moisture away from the skin, and wet equals cold.
Here’s a sample outfit for your cold weather workout: a pair of long underwear, a synthetic fleece shirt, and a water-resistant windbreaker or rain jacket, (depending on the weather), mittens, a toboggan that covers your head and ears, and water-resistant shoes. In some colder climates, you may need a facemask to provide protection from the harsh elements.
Remember, it gets darker earlier and stays darker longer in the wintertime. Consider wearing reflective tape strips, or simply add a reflective vest over the top of your clothes. Now, get walking!
Winter Workouts for Inside
Once the novelty of the snow has worn off, or when there is way too much of the white stuff to go anywhere—especially the gym—you’ll need some back up indoor exercises to keep you moving.
That’s where Transformetrics comes into play, according to Pett. And you don’t need a gym membership, special equipment, or any trendy workout wear to participate.
“You just need the equipment that God gave you—your body!” says Pett. “In Transformetrics, we use visualized resistance and isometric-type moves from your neck to your toes, and your body totally transforms with just 20 to 30 minutes of working out each day. That’s it!”
Here is an example of a Transformetrics move you can do in your living room. Place your arms straight out to your side, using full tension. Now, squeeze with slow, controlled movements like you’re wrapping your arms around a big barrel. (It’s like a standing fly exercise.) Repeat eight times, three different times throughout the day.
“This exercise works your pectorals,” explains Pett, noting that her book Every Woman’s Guide to Personal Power includes more than 170 photographed exercises so you can easily follow along.
Transformetrics is not only effective, it can also be fun! Pett does Transformetric moves with her five-year-old son.
“We put on some fun music and I let him name the moves,” she says. “He calls one of them ‘The Spiderman.’”
Nowak offers these fun and doable exercises to get the whole family involved:
- Have a contest to see who can do the longest wall squat: Stand up against a wall with your back resting on it. Walk your feet far enough in front of you so you can slide down and still form a 90-degree angle with your legs. Your knees shouldn’t be past your toes on this one, and your heels must stay in contact with the floor to protect your knee joints. Slide down like you were sitting in an imaginary chair and see how long you can hold.
- Have an imaginary jump rope contest, and see who can go the longest and perform the most creative cardio routines.
Another way to keep your workout fun is simply change it up! Marsha Taplett, a certified personal trainer and fitness expert at The Greenhouse in Arlington, suggests doing cardio dance moves one day, jog in place the next day, and jump rope later in the week.
“Keep your body shocked,” Taplett says. “You’ll stick to it longer because you won’t be bored.”
So, whether you decide to brave the cold or work out in your nice, warm house, just do it! God didn’t make us like the bears, allowing us to hibernate all winter. He made us to move year round. So move it, and have fun!