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 Winter Fitness

When the temperatures drop, it can be easy to let your fitness routine drop with them, but winter is a great time to try something new or prove to yourself just how thick your skin is.

Explore the Indoors

With colder weather and shorter days, exercising outside isn’t always plausible due to wind chill and lack of light. Switch up your workout and see what the indoor fitness world has to offer.

  • At-home Fitness DVDs – There are literally thousands of fun and effective workouts varying in length, skill level and type of exercise. You can invest in a set to keep at home, borrow from friends or check some out at the local library.
  • Group Fitness Classes – Remember that cardio class you couldn’t justify paying for because there was a free sidewalk for you to use right in your neighborhood? Well now that free sidewalk is coated in ice and the warm gym is calling your name! Get a group of friends together or join a class on your own and meet some new friends. Either way, instructed classes can be a fun change of pace.
  • Recreational Sports – If exercising inside bores you, find something to make it more fun. Forming a rec soccer, basketball or volleyball team is a good way to avoid indoor gym monotony.
  • Surf the Internet – Sitting on your computer isn’t an exercise in and of itself, but fitness bloggers and video instructors have a ton of great (and free) resources available. Whether you have at-home equipment or not, there is bound to be someone online who has a workout that caters to your goals and resources.
  • Join a Gym – It’s an oldie, but a goodie. If cold-weather exercise isn’t for you, gyms offer a variety of equipment that allows you to challenge different muscles and skill sets every day.

Brave the Outdoors

It is possible to exercise outdoors during the winter; it just requires you to be a bit more wardrobe-conscious. Believe it or not, there is a science to the layering process.

  • First layer: synthetic, thin material that will draw sweat away from the body (avoid cotton)
  • Second layer: fleece or wool material for insulation
  • Third layer: waterproof, breathable fabric

Adjust the thickness of these layers based on your susceptibility to cold and shed them as you become warmed up, as sweating too much will cause you to become very cold during cool down. Don’t neglect your skin – cover up as much as possible to prevent frostbite. Even though you may feel warm, your skin could be taking a beating from icy winds, made even more intense by running against them.

Exercising in the cold also warrants a few extra safety precautions:

  • Make sure your shoes have good traction.
  • Protect your extremities (hands, toes, ears, etc.).
  • Be aware of conditions like asthma, Raynaud’s and heart problems, and talk to your doctor before picking up an outdoor exercise routine if you have any of these complications.
  • If there is precipitation or if the temperature is too cold to exercise outdoors, respect Mother Nature and take a look at some of the indoor exercise suggestions above.

Keep in mind that outdoor workouts can be just as fun as indoor workouts. Skating, skiing, sledding (and climbing back up the hill) or outdoor races all offer opportunities for a break from the norm.