You know that moment. You’re sitting in bed, not quite asleep, but not quite awake. The covers are warm and cozy, and you can practically hear the crunch of frost outside. The heat kicks on with a low hum. You know you should head outside for some exercise or even hit the gym, but the idea of even going outside the cold air is too much. Your new year’s resolutions can hold off for just one more day, right?
Tempting as it may seem, exercising no matter the temperature is the surest way to set yourself up for health success. If you live in the temperate zones of the world, exercising in the winter, whether or not you’re braving the cold, can be challenging. But, imagine how much easier it will be to keep exercising once the warm weather comes around if you’re already in shape.
Benefits of going outside
Exercising in the cold air has more than a few benefits. The cold weather means no heat or humidity and might contribute to you being able to work out longer, and to feel more invigorated. If you want to boost your levels of vitamin D, and your mood and energy, there’s nothing like a winter work out. Perhaps the best benefit of all, your body has to work slightly harder to regulate your temperature in the cold, so you burn more calories. You should always check with your doctor first if you have asthma or heart problems. They’ll be able to give you specific guidelines for exercising based on your needs.
If you’re not into running, there are plenty of winter activities to vary your workouts, too. These include:
- Raking leaves or gardening
Benefits aside, it is wise to be aware of the weather. Dress warm and dry—always layer with moisture-wicking fabrics first, then fleece, and a thin waterproof jacket. Avoid cotton at all costs because it traps moisture and can leave you colder. When it’s raining, or when it is zero degrees outside, it is a good idea to take your workout indoors for the day.
Keep inside workouts interesting
If you already have a gym membership, capitalize on it now. Enjoy the Stairmaster or take a swim. You can also take advantage of different fitness classes offered at your gym. Try anything from cycling classes to yoga and Pilates. The variety of workouts you can have at the gym is perfect for keeping your exercise interesting and motivating.
Keep in mind that you don’t need a gym to get the exercise you need. Nor do you need a dedicated space to work out in at home, your living room will do. If you crave structure, search Pinterest for workouts at your level that you can do at home. Or, you can follow an exercise video on YouTube (search for at-home workouts, yoga videos, etc.) Most of the time, you won’t even need any equipment to get your heart rate up and the muscles burning. Active housework (we’re talking vacuuming or sweeping) also counts as good exercise.
Finally, don’t get stuck in the rut that all your workouts have to look like exercise. Some days you will still want to get out of your house and get moving, and there are plenty of other activities outside the gym to keep you fit. This includes activities that include walking for an hour around your local mall, taking a dance class, going rock climbing, and ice skating at an indoor rink.