While the winter months are often cold, dark and rainy, don’t let that deter you from keeping an active lifestyle. If you prepare properly, you can get the most out of your winter workouts and enjoy it.
There are many benefits to venturing outdoors. The fresh air, sunlight and stunning views can be an instant mood booster. And being outdoors helps build up your immunity, and prevent the winter blues commonly associated with seasonal affective disorder. Exercising in the cold burns fat quicker than more comfortable temperatures as your body has to work hard just to keep you warm. Embrace the winter weather by trail running, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, shoveling snow or ice-skating. Even a walk will do wonders to get you out and moving.
Runners should be mindful of the temperatures. If you have respiratory issues, “the cold, dry air can trigger lung tightness and asthma attacks while exercising,” advises a report on Greatist. You should also consider sunscreen and stay as hydrated as you would if it were warmer. When running or walking, be mindful of your surroundings and watch for slippery ice patches.
If you plan to run in the dark, make sure you have reflective strips that will catch the light. Your clothing should be made of moisture-wicking fabric with an insulating second layer. Your head, fingers and toes are the parts of the body most easily exposed and likely to keep you warm. Cover them up as much as possible. Remember that your body will start to produce its own heat as you move, and freezing sweat can work against you.
Indoor exercise usually brings thoughts of a gym. If it fits with your schedule, take a class so you are guaranteed a good time and a workout. There are usually a variety of options at most gyms including Pilates, yoga, spin, barre, kickboxing, karate and CrossFit. To reduce exposure, avoid busy times, and if using machines or equipment, clean them before and after you use them to prevent the spread of germs.
You can also stay in and workout whenever you want by organizing your own home gym. While a treadmill and rower are quite the investment, there is more affordable equipment available that is proven to get your heart rate up, too. Consider collecting dumbbells, a yoga mat, resistance bands, a jump rope, medicine ball, foam tiles and a kettlebell to give you a full range of options when exercising.
When it comes to making your winter workouts stick, set a goal that you would like to reach by the time spring rolls around. Consider how to incorporate wellness into your day, and perhaps seek a partner to keep you accountable. Find something you love to do, and use it as a time to focus on yourself. With these simple tweaks, you can be well on your way to a fitter and healthier year.
Thank you to Jason Lewis of Strongwell.org for this guest post!