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Winter Workout Tips: 12 Ways to Make Winter Workouts Easier

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When temperatures are dipping well below freezing, not everyone is suited to exercising outside. (See Cold Weather Warnings below.) But if the temperature is hovering around 30 or above, there’s little or no wind, and the sun is shining, outdoor winter workouts can be invigorating and boost your spirits, connect you to nature and even offer you some of the sunshine vitamin, though you’ll most likely be too covered up to get a lot of vitamin D.

Here are some of my favorite tips for making winter workouts work:

1. Find a buddy who’s willing to go with you. Having an exercise partner is always a winning strategy. In winter, it can be an essential ingredient.

2. Try a new activity. Cross country skiing, snow shoeing or winter hiking all seem more like an adventure than a chore. All of activities will have you sweating bullets in no time making the cold less intimidating. Studies have shown that you will get the best results with exercise you enjoy.

3. Invest in great winter workout clothes. There’s so much high tech stuff out there. Go to a local sporting goods store and ask for help in picking out the best clothing for your sport. A jogger or runner will have completely different needs than a walker. Jacket, hat, gloves and appropriate pants can make all the difference. Buy bright colors! Winter can seem so dreary.

4. Take time to warm up inside before you go out. If you do something aerobic inside, like bounding up and down the stairs a few times or marching in place in front of the TV or dancing—that blast of cold air won’t seem so bad when you step outside. And it protects your heart from strain. If you warm up inside, you can stretch before you go out too.

5. Drink something warm. You might even like to take a thermos along for few soothing sips along the way.

6. Try walking poles. Using the additional upper body muscle group will help you warm up faster and boost your workout. And the poles can help stabilize you on any icy or snowy patches.

7. Switch to low-cut hikers or cross-trainers. Shoes like these offer more traction and warmth than sneakers.

8. Find a park or track
where other people like to exercise. Being around others who are dedicated to walking, jogging or running will be motivating.

9. Try interval training, a great way to fire up your outdoor winter workout. Short bursts of speed help burn more calories and fire up your metabolism. And you’ll rev up your body temperature too. Before you know it, your hands won’t need gloves and you’ll be pulling down the zipper on your jacket!

10. Take earrings out.
Pierced earrings magnify the cold to your ear lobes.

11. Wear sunscreen, chapstick and sunglasses. Sun is strong enough to burn during the winter and is especially potent when there’s snow on the ground.

12. Don’t give up! If you just can’t face the cold, try indoor DVD workouts, dust off your treadmill or stationary bike and put it in a sunny spot, or take your Ipod to the local mall or indoor track. Join a dance or yoga class, try tai chi or qigong, or play indoor tennis or racquetball.

13. The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: Don’t let cold weather sideline you during the winter. Maintaining your fitness level during the cold winter months is important if you want to stay healthy year-round. Do what it takes to get yourself motivated and get moving! Hibernation just isn’t a healthy option for humans.

Cold Weather Warnings:

Heart problems? Consult your doctor before working out in cold weather. Blood vessels constrict as the air temperature drops, putting extra strain on your heart as it tries to pump blood to your arms and legs. You could set yourself up for angina or a heart attack. Warming up slowly helps you to adjust. Do so inside.

Diabetes? Cold weather ups your body’s calorie demands so you’re more vulnerable to low blood sugar. Ask your doctor how to manage your medications and food intake during cold weather exercise. You’re also more vulnerable to frostbite due to poor circulation—so warm socks, gloves and hat are a must. If your fingers, feet or face are numb, burning or tingling, get yourself inside and check for white or blue skin. If you have it, head to the doctor immediately.

Asthma? You probably know cold air can trigger an attack. Wearing some type of mask that covers your nose and mouth to help warm the air before it hits your bronchial tubes may help. But an indoor track may be necessary.

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