Don’t hibernate this winter—stick to your exercise routine.
Forget telling your fitness and weight loss goals “see you in the spring.” Continuing your exercise routine throughout the winter months keeps you on track and in shape. Exercising also provides additional benefits, including a boost to your immune system during cold and flu season, and a shield against the “winter blues.”
Do you enjoy exercising outside? Depending on the climate you’re in, winter weather may bring new opportunities like outdoor ice skating, or skiing or snowboarding for people who enjoy extreme sports. If you prefer something more low-key, you can still fit in your daily walk or run. Just be sure that if the roads are icy, your shoes have good traction to prevent falls.
Winter workouts come with their own hazards, thanks to temperature differences and the potential for icy winds. Be sure to warm up properly, as cold muscles are more prone to injury. Brisk walking and jumping jacks are good options to get your blood pumping. Keep water with you—dehydration is possible in the winter, too.
Learn signs of conditions like frostbite and hypothermia, and keep your ears and hands covered in low temperatures. If you start shivering, losing coordination, or feeling tired or confused, it’s time to head inside.
Take It Inside
If you prefer not to exercise outdoors, or if the weather is too harsh, don’t give up. When it comes to indoor physical activity, the possibilities are numerous. Whether you join a gym, have a small home setup or choose to take a fitness class of some kind, chances are good you’ll find something you enjoy.
Options for indoor exercise include:
- Swimming or water aerobics in an indoor pool
- At-home weight training or high-intensity interval training
- Yoga classes
- Dance classes
- Fitness classes including boot camp or cycling
- Walking or running on an indoor track
Whether your exercise takes place indoors or out, it’s important that you know your limits. When weather conditions are more extreme, your body fatigues more easily. Listen to it—when it tells you it’s time to stop, call it a day. You can always exercise again tomorrow!
Life in Layers
Cold weather exercise often sends people indoors, but for the intrepid among us who continue outdoor exercise, layering is key. Ideally, your body will sweat as you work out, which means you need layers that not only protect you from cold temperatures but also remove sweat from the skin. Many outer shell options are either windproof or waterproof, but not both. Wool or wool blends, however, allow sweat to pass through to the outside of the fabric while still insulating and protecting you against any wind.
To accompany your outermost layer, you should wear:
- A base layer (or more than one) of moisture-wicking synthetic fabric such as nylon, Lycra and similar blends
- An insulating middle layer to trap warm air close to your body—fleece and wool are good options
- Gloves, scarves and hats to protect against frostbite and prevent too much of your body heat from escaping