The advantages of regular exercise are too great to be put on hold when workouts become inconvenient, especially during colder months. People who exercise reduce their risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers, diabetes and osteoporosis.
In addition to these benefits, exercising can help with the winter blues as well. Regular workouts will improve your mood, increase your energy level and help you sleep better at night.
There are many ways to continue your fitness regime during the winter. All it takes is a little creativity and knowing how to dress for the outdoor climate.
Winter Exercise Ideas
To battle the cold weather excuses, explore new methods of exercise, such as the following:
- Walk the mall: Leave your wallet at home and use the mall as an indoor track.
- Join a health club. Choose one close to home or work and ask the staff to show you how to use the equipment.
- Join a class or indoor team: There are plenty of fitness classes available through community organizations or local health clubs. Choose a class suited to your fitness level and taste.
- Find an indoor pool: Indoor swimming is a great way to build stamina and stay lean through winter. Whether you’re taking a dip for a water-aerobics class or swimming some laps, there are plenty of ways to enjoy water inside.
- Create a home gym: Invest in some practical, enjoyable and easy-to-use exercise equipment. Consider buying used.
- Everything counts: From vacuuming the house to shoveling snow, remember that many activities count toward being fit. Even if you don’t have a workout planned for the day, try to think of some way to be active.
The key to staying comfortable and safe during outdoor winter workouts is to dress in layers. That way, as your body temperature rises during the workout, you can peel away the layers you no longer need.
Optimizing Your Outfit
Here are some guidelines for suiting up safely:
- Layering: Start with a thin synthetic material to draw sweat away from your body. Your second layer should be an insulating layer, preferably fleece, which will keep you warm, but also allow water vapor to pass through. Finally, top it off with a waterproof, breathable outer layer to protect you from the winter elements.
- Cover your extremities: Fingers, toes and ears are most susceptible to frostbite. Remember, you lose 90% of your body heat through your head, so be sure to always wear a hat.
- Take safety precautions: If it’s dark outside, wear a reflective outer layer. If the surface of the ground is uneven due to weather conditions, choose footwear with enough traction to prevent falls.
- Sunscreen: Snow reflects the sun's rays, so sunburn is possible even if you're cold.