When the snow and cold start settling in for the winter, you might be forced to alter your workout routine. Some people do their best to stick to their exercise regimen during the colder months, but winter weather can often step in and put a halt to your plans. The best way to handle exercising in the winter is to have an indoor backup plan for when the weather turns sour, and to take advantage of the exercise options that slushier conditions afford. You don’t get the chance to enjoy a brisk winter’s morning all year round, so you might as well make the most of it while it lasts. ‘Tis the season for winter workout tips.
#1 – Dress the Part
Some people treat exercising in the cold as some badge of honor that they only earn when they wear as little workout clothing as possible. The best way to stay safe while exercising in the winter is to treat the cold with the respect it deserves and dress properly for your cold-weather exercise routine. Some quick tips for protection from the cold include:
- Dressing in loose-fitting layers to capture plenty of insulating air;
- Protecting your hands, feet, face and ears with appropriate accessories; and
- Wearing sunscreen – sunshine can burn your skin even in the winter.
Not every part of the country sees chilly weather from December to March, but if you live in a place that measures snow by the foot, you’ll need to take extra precautions. If the wind chill will hit minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit, then stay inside to work out until it warms back up. Your body will thank you.
#2 – Put the Snow to Good Use
While running in the cold can be exhilarating, there are other effective ways to use the latest snowfall to your advantage. Try snow-based activities such as cross-country skiing to maximize your winter exercising potential. Cross-country skiing is something you can do in any open space, and it gives you quite a workout. If you’ve been looking for an exercise that works your arms, shoulders and legs together, then you should really get some cross-country skis and get out there. Just remember that those nice little hills you ski down on your way out will still be there when you come back, so choose your path wisely.
#3 – Try a New Winter Sport
Ice skating helps build the strength in your ankles and lower legs, and it’s a great sport for improving your balance, which can help you later in life as you age. If you’ve never tried ice skating, then the winter is the perfect time to give it a try. You may not medal in the sport, but you’ll gain some benefits from attempting a new activity.
Of course, there are plenty of other winter sports that you can test out when the temperatures drop, among them ice hockey, sledding, snowboarding and even curling. The added benefit of trying a new sport is that you might find something that you really like, which will add to your repertoire of activities if you hit a rut in your workout regimen. Plus, learning new activities will help you work out new parts of your body.
#4 – Head Inside When You Need To
If the thought of working out when it’s 10 below fills you with dread, know that there’s no harm in staying inside. There are lots of ways to burn calories, tone your muscles and work on your core without leaving your heated basement. Check out free videos online, dust off your old exercise bike or lift things around the house – like milk jugs or a basket of laundry – until you can return to the great outdoors. There aren’t any bonus points (or benefits) for freezing to death or injuring yourself on slippery walkways. Stay inside when you need to.
#5 – Get a Workout When You Can
Spring cleaning is supposed to be the time when you throw open the windows and get that winter funk out of your home. Why wait until spring to clean your home completely when you’re stuck indoors because of the weather? You should probably avoid opening the windows when cleaning your house during the winter, but you can still clean your house thoroughly and get a great workout on those colder days.
Being cooped up in the house when there’s especially bad winter weather doesn’t have to put a crimp on your workout plans. Instead of allowing snow and ice to keep you down, get on your feet and keep yourself active. Check off your to-do list, clean out the guest room or attic, or start prepping your meals in advance for the week. All of that scrubbing, lifting and cooking will help you burn calories while you wait out the storm.
A big part of cleaning the house during the winter is shoveling the show in your driveway and on your walkways. Keep the snow blower stashed in your garage and attack that snow head on for a high-burn workout. Note: Pay attention to your body and take breaks when you need to while shoveling to avoid any medical issues. Overworking yourself on the shoveling can lead to problems. But if you’ve got the muscle and mental strength to handle the job, consider volunteering your services for elderly neighbors or those with limited mobility. You’ll get an extra workout in while doing a good deed.
#6 – Be Smart
This piece of advice may not be season-specific, but always take precautions when you’re working out, whatever the weather may be. The most important part of exercising during the winter is to plan ahead. If the weather is extremely cold and snowy outside, then be smart and exercise indoors. There’s no shame in hitting the treadmill, practicing yoga with YouTube videos or lifting weights in the comfort – and safety – of your own home. When you do exercise outside, take care to avoid patches of ice that could cause you to fall. Also, note that your days may be shorter during the winter, so take a buddy or plan your route carefully to avoid getting stuck alone at night earlier than you expected.
One other important element of winter exercise that people sometimes forget is to stay hydrated. Just because the weather is colder doesn’t mean that you can forget the water bottle on your run. A frigid day can do just as much damage as a sweltering one while you’re burning calories. Don’t forget to hydrate as you exercise, and wear appropriate layers to regulate your body temperature during the workout.