As many of us renew our New Years’ Resolutions to keep up our fitness levels, we’re confronted with the challenge of getting a good exercise routine in the face of cold winter weather. When the cold weather comes, it’s hard to stay motivated to keep exercising. You can make it fun, even though it’s cold, with some reasonable adjustments. This month, we’ll go over some helpful tips. Let’s keep moving!
Winter brings with it a few changes that will affect your mind and body, and importantly, your capacity to exercise.
Exercising in the Winter – Shorter days:
this means less sunlight in the early mornings and late afternoons when many people like to be outside getting exercise. This one is a double whammy, as the extra hours of darkness will reduce serotonin levels in the brain and prompt the desire for sweets and comfort foods. This will be one of the biggest challenges to overcome.
Overcoming shorter days: Getting to bed earlier will make it much easier to wake up before the sun is out to get in your a.m. workout. Consider pushing your bedtime up an hour or so, and the added sleep time will make you feel refreshed and ready to take on the challenge of the day even if you’re waking up to work out in the dark. Eating healthy carbs throughout the day like whole wheats, sweet potatoes, oats and grains will help you curb those cravings.
Exercising in the Winter – Cold weather:
Let’s face it, this is tough to handle. Your energy for an extra push on your run or vigorous walk can be sapped by the cold. The cold weather is especially hard to deal with when it first comes on since our bodies aren’t used to it yet.
Overcoming the cold weather: You’ll have to be properly prepared to get your best workout in the cold weather. Dress in layers: a warm base layer like a warm Under Armor shirt that can wick away sweat, another warm layer like a fleece or sweatshirt, and an outer shell that can repel moisture.
If you can adapt by working out inside, at a gym or even at home with simple exercises like sit-ups, pushups and squats coupled with some nice walks outside this will help you adapt to the cold.
Exercising in the Winter – Tricky Terrain:
If you like to get your exercise primarily though running or walking outside, this can be harder in the winter due to snow and ice on the ground. This can create treacherous terrain that may result in slipping and falling, or just make walking more difficult.
Overcoming the tricky terrain: Having the right equipment can make the winter ground much easier to traverse. Invest in some running shoes with high traction soles or look at some nice waterproof winter boots for your walks.
The winter terrain also offers certain fitness opportunities that you can’t take advantage of the rest of the year. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing for example, are excellent calorie-shredding workouts that you can enjoy with the nice cover of snowfall or only in the winter time. Give a new sport a chance and you might find yourself a new winter hobby!
For some more excellent advice on getting exercise in the winter, you can check out these links below:
How to keep working out in the winter from WebMD
Winter-Proof your workout from Fitness Magazine
Winter Workout Tips That’ll Keep You Motivated Through The New Year from the Huffington Post
Good luck preparing yourself for workouts this winter, and best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!
Dr. Rogena Johnson