Don’t Hibernate: Staying Active in the Cold
During the winter months, it becomes a little too easy to abandon your workout routine. With the dropping temperatures, the darkening sky, and the chilly wind, the season seems to be begging you to stay indoors and hibernate on your couch under a mound of blankets. Health experts urge, however, that exercise should be part of your daily routine, no matter the weather.
“Regular workouts improve your mood, increase your energy level and help you sleep better at night”
“The advantages of regular exercise are too great to be put on hold when workouts become inconvenient, especially during colder, winter months,” explains Joseph Giaimo, DO, an osteopathic board-certified internal medicine physician from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. “In fact, regular workouts will improve your mood, increase your energy level and help you sleep better at night.”
Winter Exercise Ideas
To battle the cold weather excuses, Dr. Giaimo recommends exploring new methods of exercise, such as the following:
- Walk the mall: Leave your wallet at home and use the mall as an indoor track.
- Join a health club: Choose one close to home or work and ask the staff to show you how to use the equipment.
- Join a class or indoor team: There are plenty of fitness classes available through community organizations or local health clubs. From yoga to boot camp classes, there’s bound to be an option suited to your fitness level and taste.
- Find an indoor pool: Indoor swimming is a great way to build stamina and stay lean through winter. Whether you’re taking a dip for a water aerobics class or swimming laps, there are plenty of ways to enjoy water inside.
- Create a home gym: Invest in some practical, enjoyable and easy-to-use exercise equipment. To stretch your exercise dollars, consider buying them used.
- Everything counts: From vacuuming the house to shoveling snow, remember that many activities count toward being fit. Even if you don’t have a workout planned for the day, try to think of some way to be active.
“Don’t shy away from exercise because of the weather,” Dr. Giaimo advises. “It just takes a little creativity, and if your fitness regimen will take you outdoors, remember to dress in layers.”
Optimizing Your Outfit for Winter Exercise
Here are some guidelines for suiting up safely:
- Layer well: Start with a thin synthetic material, such as polypropelyne, to draw sweat away from your body. Your second layer should be an insulating layer, preferably a fleece, which will keep you warm, but also allow water vapor to pass through. Finally, top with a waterproof, breathable outer layer to protect you from the winter elements.
- Cover your extremities: Pay special attention to your fingers, toes and ears, the parts of your body at higher risk of frostbite, and be sure to wear a hat.
- Take safety precautions: If it’s dark outside, wear a reflective outer layer. If the surface of the ground is uneven due to weather conditions, choose footwear with enough traction to prevent falls.
- Remember sunscreen: Snow reflects the sun’s rays, so sunburn is possible even if you’re cold.