Winter makes most of us want to crawl under the covers and not come out till spring. And if that’s not you, no one wants to hear about it. We hope you’re enjoying your carefree life in Tahiti.
For the rest of us, exercising in the winter months can not only be a struggle, it can seem impossible. Unfortunately, it’s necessary if you want to stay healthy. You know that regular exercise is good for your heart and overall health, or you should. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. That’s just over 20 minutes a day.
If you still have a tight grip on those blankets, consider the fact that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention daily exercise can help ward off bacterial and viral infections. Then consider these simple suggestions to add some exercise into your winter hibernation.
COLD WEATHER EXERCISE IDEAS
Stay in bed
The morning can set the tone for your entire day. So, why not start it off with some light exercise before you even get out of bed? Before your mind wanders to the gutter, we’re talking about simple exercises like straight-leg lifts and planks. They’re no replacement for an actual workout, but they can help you wake up and get you motivated.
If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can move your morning out of bed with some jumping jacks for some quick cardio too.
It may sound like a convenient excuse to skip the gym, but everyday housework can count as cardio. Anyone who’s ever vacuumed the stairs, cleaned the baseboards, and reorganized the pantry in a single afternoon can attest to the fact that cleaning can be a workout.
It’s a multitasker’s dream: getting in some cardio while finally taking care of the winter cleaning (it’s a thing). While it can’t replace an actual exercise routine, it can get your heart pumping on a particularly cold or snowy day.
Take the stairs
This is a good idea any time of the year, but winter offers an excellent excuse to turn this activity into a healthy habit. Whether you’re at home, the office, or wherever, stairs offer some convenient cardio.
That doesn’t mean you need to treat every staircase like a StairMaster. Start to consciously think of ways to add a few more steps into your daily routines. Need to grab a few things from up or downstairs? Take one item at a time, even if you could carry it all in one trip. Have a meeting on the 23rd floor and you’re on the 21st? Skip the elevator and take the stairs.
Bonus points if you can get some of your co-workers to do it with you, which also offers the perfect segue to our next winter exercise trick.
Get a group
With dark mornings, early sunsets, and cooler temperatures maintaining motivation can be a challenge. Sometimes you need a little extra push and that’s where group accountability comes in. You may also know it by its less-polite name: guilt.
Working out with a group does more than just give you someone to complain with when the instructor lies about it being the last set. Countless studies and common sense have shown that social support can help you keep with your exercise routine. Whether you run together, walk together, or namaste together – they keep you honest and you get to return the favor.
Get out there
Yes, it’s cold, but too much indoor time can make even the most devout hibernators a little stir-crazy. Getting outside can not only help with your mental health, it can also increase the benefits of exercise. If you like to run or walk during the warmer months, there’s no reason you can’t continue during the winter.
A walk around the block—which is always a great low-impact exercise—or a quick jog can both give you extra benefits in colder weather and make the heart muscles stronger. Because the heart has to work harder to keep you warm it, can give you some high-impact heart health rewards.
For some, outdoor exercise can actually be less of a struggle during the winter. Fewer allergens can have you breathing better, and cooler temps can actually help with focus and decrease joint inflammation, too.
Have some fun
Exercising outdoors during the winter doesn’t have to be cold and miserable. Believe it or not, it can actually be fun! No matter where you live, there are plenty of wintertime activities to keep you active. Finding something that’s fun and you enjoy doing can make it easier to stay active.
Skiing, sledding, and ice skating are just the tip of the iceberg. Building a snowman, starting a snowball fight, building a snow fort, ending a snowball fight, hiking, snow shoeing – the options are only limited by your own comfort levels and motivation.
Finding a winter activity to keep you active can be a real exercise game changer. Knowing that come spring these activities won’t be an option can make you want to keep with it.