From our cars to our cubicles and back home again. Does that sound familiar? Americans have been described as modern-day cave-dwellers, and that’s even more true when the temperature drops. Yet you know you need to keep moving through the winter, for both your health and your medical weight loss program. Heading to the gym and hitting your workout DVDs inside are good ways to beat the winter fitness blahs. But don’t ignore the great outdoors—the change in weather can mean opportunities to inject more challenge and fun into your workout program. Read on for tips on making the outdoors your fitness friend this winter.
- Walk the winter way. When snow’s on the ground, or it’s just plain frigid outside, make the walk safer (and burn more calories at the same time) by using trekking poles. These sturdy poles provide balance and help improve posture while kicking your heart rate higher, too.
- Be a kid again. There’s nothing more fun than recapturing your youth with the (little or big) kids in your life. Snow angels, sledding, and snowball fights are all great ways to burn some calories. Or you can have fun in the winter weather by creating obstacle courses out of snow, racing your kids up the highest hill in your neighborhood, or going ice skating.
- Train for something outside. A great way to make sure you’ll exercise consistently throughout the chillier months? Commit to a fitness event. Although most occur during the non-winter months, many towns have events to celebrate the season. See if your area hosts a jingle-bell jog or a polar bear 5K. An advantage to these is that you can train outdoors when winter weather permits, but stay inside on your treadmill if snow starts falling. Grab a couple friends and commit to training together, or set a time you want to beat to make it more fun and motivating.
- Find fitness in the every day. In winter, there are creative ways to get fit and get things done at the same time. If you live in a climate where you get a lot of snow and are a bit of an adventurer, consider investing in snowshoes or cross-country skis as an investment in your health. They use different muscles than walking and are a great way to up your fitness level. Using them to visit a neighbor or to get to the store or post office instead of driving can be a great cardiovascular and calorie-burning exercise (and an eco-friendly one, too)!
- Be smart. Remember to play it safe when you head outside to exercise. Warm up first, cover your head, and wear layers so you can maintain a comfortable body temperature. If you suffer from asthma or other breathing problems, take necessary precautions like bringing your inhaler. And, of course, be mindful of your fitness level and always get your physician’s clearance to do any exercise or strenuous activity.
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