I’m a bicycling enthusiast — when the weather is right! (No rain, no snow, and no excessive heat or cold!) When the weather is nasty, it can be harder for me to stay fit. It’s time to get creative and mix things up a bit. Here are some cold weather options to keep yourself healthy and active.
1. Walk it Out (or In!)
Walking is such beneficial exercise. It’s easier on the joints than running, and you can do it anywhere and at any speed. My partner adores his Fitbit that counts his steps every day. Sometimes I come home to find him pacing the living room or basement to get those last steps in before 10,000! If you bundle up right, winter hiking is a beautiful, peaceful experience. The paths will not be as crowded as the summer time, and you can enjoy the purity of the snow and the stillness of the hibernating world. If your house is too cramped to walk in, and you’re not a winter hiker, try a shopping mall or a large convenience store. A mall with a well-connected, spaced out, indoor layout will make it easier for you to count laps. Just avoid the holiday season and peek times — and wait to stop in the stores until you’re done!
2. Outdoor — or Indoor! — Sports
If you’re a gung ho sports enthusiast, winter weather won’t stop you! Some of you have been itching to pull out those skis and snowboards! How about those hardcore softball players who play in snowball softball? There are also plenty of indoor sports. Basketball is an obvious one, but there are also indoor soccer and softball leagues, and there’s spinning class for bicyclists.
3. Nothing Else for You to Do But . . . Dance!
Have you been meaning to pick up some steps? From ballroom to boogie, winter is a great time to learn some new dance moves. If you prefer to dance in a group, check out your local park district, junior college, YMCA, or dance studio for classes. If you prefer to go solo, try a workout video or videogame version. Or just turn on some tunes and let yourself loose!
4. Work Your Whole Self with Yoga
Work the body and spirit with yoga. Don’t be fooled by the serenity of the exercise — it’s an amazing workout. Stick with it, and you’ll get toned this winter. Not only does yoga give you some badly needed flexibility, it strengthens your major muscles and your core through prolonged holds in strategic poses. It’s critical that you start as a beginner and that you pick the instructor and class that is right for you. At least start with a small class and an instructor who pays close attention to the students. Before class, tell your instructor about any surgeries or other physical issues, and don’t ever be afraid to ask for modifications.
5. Beware the New Year’s Resolution-ers. . . The Gym/Park District
Do you prefer workout machines? If you don’t have space in your house or you prefer working out with others, a gym or park district/YMCA may be a good option for you. You can burn calories in good company. Bring an accountability partner or grab a personal trainer. These facilities give you lots of workout options all in one place and can offer a variety of classes, too.
6. The Holographic Workout: Videogames & Other Media
How about not leaving the house at all? If you have a video game player, take a class or complete a workout routine on your own time and in your own space. The Kinect for my XBox360 monitors my movements and helps me get my best workout. Two of my favorite games are Harley Pasternak’s Hollywood Workout and Zumba Fitness Core. Many libraries carry videogames now, so you can even try before you buy now. Don’t have a videogame consule? Try a workout or instructional DVD.
7. “Will you Play with me?”
How about getting in touch with your inner kid AND getting some exercise? Go sledding. Start a snowball fight. Build a snowman or snow fort. Or simply run around with your kids or your dog in the snow. If you’d prefer to stay indoors, chase them around inside the house! Play hide-and-go-seek. Create a scavenger hunt. Have a tickle war!
8. Stairway to Health
If you’ve got stairs, you’ve got built in exercise equipment! You can do repetitions up and down those stairs. Walk up two at a time. Walk sideways. Run up and down the stairs! (Just be careful!) This is a great chance to bring your indoor walk to the next level.
9. Clean Like You Mean It!
If you don’t enjoy cleaning but you’ve got to get it done — turn it into your workout! Put your full attention on that scrubbing and alternate hands. Take multiple trips up and down the stairs for that laundry load, instead of trying to carry it all at once. Gotta dust? Why not put on some music and sway and groove a bit as you move from space to space? Don’t forget to stre-etch your body for those high spots! And squat for those lower ones. If you’re careful, moving some furniture around to dust and vacuum under and around some neglected areas can add some extra weight to your workout!
10. Pump up the Daily Routine
If you just can’t find yourself doing any of these, try pumping up and adding to what you do already. You can get in some squats in the bathroom stall at work. Park your car farther away (and then run — carefully — to the car if it’s cold!) Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Take breaks to get up and walk around a bit throughout the day. How about a core balance ball instead of your office chair? Get up to change the channel instead of using the remote. Walk in instead of using the drive through. Stand while you’re on the phone. Leave your desk for lunch. Stretch upon waking up and throughout the day.
Which of these will you implement today? Please share your own practices in the comments below!