Staying active in the cold weather might sound like an oxymoron to some. Exercising outside is often impractical, and working out inside can be a bore. But don’t stop exercising! Consistent exercise can actually help you clear those wintertime blues and boost your energy levels, so there will be fewer days when all you want to do is snuggle up under a blanket next to a fire.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Just because it’s winter and not marathon or triathlon season yet, doesn’t mean you have nothing to work towards. Set up big goals that can be broken down into smaller ones that you can meet on a regular basis, like running a 5K or just trying a new trail route. This will help keep your spirits up. You can also try making a deal with yourself: every day you go running, you get a cup of hot cocoa. And remember, working out makes you happier. You’ve got the willpower, you can do it!
Switch Things Up
If you’re used to working out outside, switch things up during the freezing cold. You can still exercise outside sometimes, but also try yoga, kickboxing or spinning, which will allow you to stay inside and augment your usual workout. Joining a class, a fitness club, or a team is also a great way to keep in shape (and make new friends).
If you don’t feel like paying for a fitness club, you can always stay at home and rent a workout DVD or find a YouTube video to help you learn and stay active. Also, why not try a winter sport? There are so many different activities you can do to stay in shape and enjoy time the winter on your own, or with friends and family. The colder months are your chance to try skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice skating, and sledding before the snow is all gone.
And before you groan at the season’s first major snowfall, remember that shoveling snow does more than you think. It’s the little things that count when working out. You may not be ready for a full workout session outside, but leaving your house to shovel some snow for a little while will keep your muscles moving and keep your heart rate up.
Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you should stay inside; just remember to wear layers. Optimally, make your first layer a synthetic fabric to help keep the sweat away from your body. The second layer should be an insulator (like fleece) to stay warm. Add a waterproof layer on top to protect you from the snow. Gloves and a hat are also important to shield yourself from the wind and potential frostbite. These layers are useful whether you’re running distance or just going for a walk around the block with your family.
Also, somewhat counterintuitively, remember to wear sunscreen. The sun can still reflect off the snow and burn your skin during the winter.
Finally, just because we tend to eat more during the winter, that doesn’t mean you don’t have the willpower to overcome it. Stay in control and maintain a good diet and exercise routine. Your body and mind will thank you.