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Fun Ways to Keep Fit in the Winter

By Nell Stephenson, B.S.
January 15, 2020
Fun Ways to Keep Fit in the Winter image

With the holidays behind us, you may be rethinking those excuses that it's "too cold outside." We've all been guilty of using the dark morning and the bone-chilling weather as an excuse not to workout during the winter. You’re not alone, but that doesn’t mean you should go with the flow.

Studies(1) show that not exercising in winter leads to:

  • A 20 percent decrease in cardiopulmonary fitness within just three to eight weeks of not exercising
  • A loss of whatever advantages they gained over time
  • A higher rate of reverting to a sedentary lifestyle within three to six months of not exercising
  • Difficulty losing the winter weight gained even when they start exercising again

How to stay active

Now that we’ve covered why not to cease exercise, let’s talk about some innovative ways to get a move on when your normal go-to might not be the most appealing:

Start small

Set a goal of just trying something once: get up early, dress warmly and go for that jog or take your dog for an early morning run around the neighborhood. Or try that new spin class you typically avoid in the summertime when you’re too busy outside running on the trails.

Use the climate to your advantage

Rather than fight the climate (a losing battle), use it to your advantage! Embrace the cold snowy weather and learn to snowshoe or cross country ski. Not only will you keep your mind busy, your body will respond well to the opportunity to cross train.

Be creative

One client who was snowed in and couldn’t get to the gym opted to make snow shoveling the driveway his workout for the day, rather than using the family’s snow-blower.

Challenge yourself

Don’t let fear of getting too cold allow you to skip your workout all on its own. Invest in some of the great new gear out there that will keep you warm while wicking away moisture, keeping you dry and warm even while you sweat!

Don’t forget the small stuff.

That 15 minute walk you do around your office building in both the morning and afternoon can add up to 10 miles over the course of a work week and 10 miles is far from nothing!

    Ward away the holiday blues

    Don’t forget the extra benefit we get when we exercise in winter compared to when it’s oh so easy to hop out of bed in the summer to workout; as many people report feeling that they have a touch of the blues during this time of the year, either due to a post-holiday lull or lack of sunlight, exercising can help boost our mood and set the day off on the right foot.

    Studies (2) have shown that exercise can be more effective than prescription anti-depressants; not to mention, exercise doesn't have any side-effects!

    By allowing ourselves to be a little less regimented in our typical exercise routines, we open up the possibilities of how to keep fit all winter long.

    So, bundle up, get out there and go!

    References

    1) “REGULAR EXERCISE PARTICIPATION MEDIATES THE AFFECTIVE RESPONSE TO ACUTE BOUTS OF VIGOROUS EXERCISE, JSSM-2010, Vol.9, Issue 4, 629 - 637

    2) Publishing, Harvard Health. “Exercise Is an All-Natural Treatment to Fight Depression.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-is-an-all-natural-treatment-to-fight-depression.

    3) Blumenthal, PhD James A. “Effects of Exercise Training on Older Patients With Major Depression.” Archives of Internal Medicine, American Medical Association, 1 Oct. 1999, jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/485159.

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