Fixed 411 | Building my winter training bike
Creating a Winter Workout
Be it “no time” or “no energy,” we’ve all come up with reasons to skip a workout. And when it comes time to exercise during the winter, another excuse gets added to the list: the cold. On chilly days, curling up by the fire may seem more appealing than a winter workout. But exercise during the winter is just as important as warm-weather exercise. After all, your body doesn’t function any differently when it’s cold outside, and with the added calories from the holidays and comfort foods we tend to crave during the winter, workouts are especially important.
“When I hear excuses as to why people can’t exercise in the winter, my answer is ‘All you need is your body and you can exercise,’” says Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, director of the women and heart disease initiative at North Shore LIJ Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “You just need to get your heart rate up, so whether that means taking the stairs in your office building or turning on the music and dancing in your living room, just do it.”
There are also winter activities that are good for your body and fun at the same time, like ice skating, skiing, and snowboarding. For exercise during the winter as well as the rest of the year, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes a week of activity that raises your heart rate. That breaks down to 30 minutes of exercise five times a week.
Before you engage in any exercise during the winter, be it a traditional winter workout like outdoor running or winter chores, such as shoveling snow or chopping wood, see your doctor for the go-ahead, especially if you have risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or a family history of heart problems. “There’s a huge amount of energy required to shovel snow, which can be dangerous, particularly for someone who hasn’t exercised for awhile," says Steinbaum. "Every winter we hear about people having heart attacks while snow shoveling.”
Winter Workouts Made Easier
Once you’ve gotten the green light to exercise outdoors during the winter, here are some things you can do to stay motivated for winter workouts as well as get maximum enjoyment from winter activities:
Make your exercise during the winter simple and fun.“If you can’t bear the thought of going out in the cold to get to the gym or run outside, then stay in,” says Jessica Smith, an American College of Sports Medicine-certified fitness instructor and co-author ofThe Thin in 10 Weight-Loss Plan.“Pop in a workout DVD or turn on your favorite workout mix and put together your own winter workout circuit of simple moves like jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, and more.”
Take advantage of recreational winter activities.“Skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are all fantastic calorie-burners and great for toning your lower body and core,” Smith says. “Go sledding or tobogganing with the kids and you can burn a surprising number of calories — about 234 in 30 minutes.” Other enjoyable winter activities that burn calories include figure skating, ice hockey, broomball (a combination of ice hockey and soccer), downhill skiing, tubing, and playing in the snow. “If you’re not feeling adventurous enough for these winter activities, simply head outside for a walk,” Smith says. “Moving through snow and maneuvering around ice will keep you alert and present in your winter workout and blast calories at the same time.”
Dress appropriately for winter activities.You’ll be much less likely to engage in outdoor exercise during the winter if you’re freezing. “Wear a hat, scarf, and gloves to keep warm,” says Valerie Walkowiak, medical integrated coordinator at Loyola University Center for Fitness in Maywood, Ill. “It’s important to keep your extremities covered to prevent frostbite during winter activities, especially your nose, ears, and fingers.” Walkowiak says your first layer should be a synthetic material, such as polypropylene, to keep the sweat off your skin. “Avoid cotton for winter workouts, which stays wet against your skin and causes you to get cold,” she says. The next layer should be fleece or wool for insulation. “And for your top layer, wear something waterproof but breathable,” she suggests. “Heavy jackets may cause you to overheat if you’re exercising hard.”
Mimic your summertime workout.Winter weather doesn’t mean you have to change your warm-weather exercise routine — just move it inside, Steinbaum says. “If you play tennis in the spring, summer, and fall, play tennis on your Wii as a winter activity,” she says. “Or if you swim in the summer, find an indoor pool.”
Drink plenty of water.When you exercise in the winter, you may not realize how much water you’re losing. But even during winter activities, sweating can cause dehydration, leading to muscle fatigue and weakness, Walkowiak says. Be sure to stay hydrated.
Burn calories with industrious winter activities.In addition to being productive, some winter activities burn lots of calories and can double as a winter workout.
Video: Calisthenics Winter Workout Motivation
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