by Virginia Cunningham
When you were younger, it might have been fun to play outside in the crisp cold air, especially if it was a Saturday afternoon and a game of touch football. The cold breeze was refreshing, and a little snow on the ground was always a treat.
But even with all the upside, you knew that if you fell, it was going to hurt a little more.
We all know that working out or engaging in physical activity in the winter comes with its problems– the cold weather makes it much more difficult to stay loose and keep muscles warm, while joints can be negatively affected by the change in barometric pressure brought on by cold weather.
When you were younger, sore muscles and joints weren’t much of an issue, but as an adult trying to stay in shape, you can’t afford an injury over a 20-minute jog. While the temperature may be the boost you need to keep you awake and alert, you also run a higher risk of injury in the form of muscle spasms, sore joints and, in extreme cases, sprains and tears.
In order to reduce the chances of suffering an injury while working out in the cold, you’ll want your skin to be protected by dressing in layers, making sure to cover your head and hands as well. Even bundled up, you’ll want to consider spending a little bit of extra time stretching and warming up, just to ensure that your muscles aren’t as stiff going into the cold.
Along with the proper attire, you’ll also want to make sure you’re able to perform to the best of your ability, which means loading up on supplements and vitamins to help you combat the common effects that winter can have on your body. Some of these include biotin, fish oil, magnesium, calcium, zinc and vitamins A, B12, D and C.
Furthermore, make sure to also stay hydrated, whether or not you feel like you need to drink something. You can sweat just as much in the cold, so getting enough water is just as important.
On the other hand, if the cold weather doesn’t appeal to you at all and you don’t want to drop your fitness goals, consider these winter workout alternatives:
- Living Room Bodyweight Workout
When it comes right down to it, all you really need to workout is the weight of your own body. If it’s freezing cold and you don’t feel like leaving your living room, then don’t. Just run through a 30 to 40-minute bodyweight workout routine and call it a day.
- Indoor Pool
If you’re lucky enough to have access to an indoor pool, the winter months are the perfect time to take advantage of it. Pound for pound swimming is one of the most calorie-burning intensive exercises you can do. Even just 30 minutes a day can work wonders for your waistline, and you’ll have the benefit of having the water heated before you jump in.
It’s a shame that so many treadmills tend to languish in the basements of unenthused owners who don’t want to run outside in the winter time. If it’s cold out and you’ve got a treadmill, then stop using the cold as an excuse to avoid your run.While running on a treadmill does come with unique advantages, such as simulating races or fitness test programs, it could be a detrimental option to someone who runs outside only when it comes time to race. Because treadmills do not provide you the opportunity to learn how to pace, long-distance and marathon runners should consider choosing the outdoor scene when training.
However, if you just love running as an activity and don’t participate in races too often, choosing the treadmill can give you nearly the same great workout you’re looking for, minus the wind resistance.
- Isometric and Plyometric Routines
Both plyometric and isometric exercises are easy to do in your home and require little in terms of equipment.Plyometrics are ideal for working your muscles, tendons and nervous system, which will help you run faster, jump higher and hit harder. Isometrics, on the other hand, are more beneficial to those suffering from arthritis, in that these types of exercises are performed in one position without movement. In other words, they will only improve strength in one position, rather than improve speed or athletic performance.
If you’re looking for something a little more interesting than your traditional bodyweight workout, this can get you there and keep you safe from the elements.
- Going to the Gym
We’ve saved the best for last — the tried-and-true method of getting up, getting in your car and going to the gym.It’s the ultimate year-round workout plan, especially since there are few gyms in existence that don’t have both heating and air-conditioning. Not only that, but everything you need to workout is there.
So, if you’ve got the membership, why not use it when the outdoors aren’t so cozy?
Whether you layer up, stretch and brave the elements or go with a workout that allows you to stay indoors, the biggest factor when it comes to your workout routine during the winter is your ability to stay committed. It’s easy to slack off and avoid fitness entirely, since you’re wearing pants and long sleeves most of the time, but staying consistent all year long is crucial to a fitness routine.
Don’t wait until after the cold months to decide you want to get after it again.
Today’s guest writer is Virginia Cunningham, a freelance writer and health enthusiast in Southern California. As a writer for NorthWest, she is able to share her extensive knowledge on personal health and wellness, and although she doesn’t experience a lot of cold weather where she is from, she makes sure to take the right precautions if ever bad weather strikes.