February 2006 Issue --> Health & Fitness Article
 
Winter Exercise Tips to Help You Stay Fit
 
By: Lynn Bode, CFT

 



With the temperatures plummeting this time of year, many of us tend to hibernate inside our homes. But, hibernating is for bears. As humans, it's important to stay active through all four seasons. Yet, a poll of 5,000 people found that 30 percent get no exercise at all during the winter months.
 
Just because it is cold outside doesn't make it open season for an excuse not to exercise. There are multiple exercise options one can choose to participate in regardless of what the outdoor thermometer reads. Depending on your location and likes, you can choose to workout inside or outside.
 
All that is required for winter-time workouts is some planning and employing all safety precautions. If you prefer to workout outside, keep the following tips in mind.
  • Get warm first. A proper warm-up is critical. Cold temperatures can make your muscles tight and therefore they are more prone to injuries. So, it's important to get them warmed-up prior to engaging in intense physical activity.
     
  • Insulate your body. The best approach to dressing for outdoor exercise is with layers. Layering provides the most effective heating method, plus it allows you to remove the top layer if you get too hot. The layer closest to your skin should allow moisture to be wicked away. The top layer should be both wind and water resistant.
     
  • No sweat. Don't assume that you have to sweat in order to get a good workout. You should avoid sweating that causes the clothing layer closest to your skin to get wet and cause you to be chilled. Instead monitor your intensity through a heart rate monitor or the Rating of Perceived Exertion.
     
  • Don't strip when you get inside. While you may be tempted to immediately remove your layers when returning inside, give your body time to adjust. Post exercise hypothermia is possible. This happens when your body rapidly loses its heating stores.
     
  • Drink up. It's just as important to stay hydrated when exercising in winter as it is in summer, even though you might not feel as thirsty.
     
  • Lighten up. If possible, it's best to exercise outdoors during daylight areas. But, with shorten days that can be difficult to do. If you exercise outdoors when it is dark, wear reflective materials to ensure that you can be seen.
If the thought of getting outside to exercise makes you dive under the covers, instead choose one of the many indoor workout options. Below are just a few of the many choices.
  • Walk at an indoor location, like a mall. If you need extra motivation to get yourself to the mall, join a walking group. This will help you stay accountable to someone other than yourself.

  •  
  • Join a health club. This will allow you a large variety of physical activities to choose from every week.

  •  
  • Create a home gym. This doesn't have to be expensive. You can easily set-up a great workout routine with just a set of dumbbells, an exercise ball and a jump rope. Get all of this for around $50.

  •  
  • If you have stairs where you live or close by, spend as little as 20 minutes at a time climbing up and down the stairs for a very intense and efficient workout.

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  • Get wet. Find a local indoor pool you can use. Try swimming, water aerobics, or even just walking or running laps in the water.

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  • Visit a library. Usually local libraries offer exercise videos you can check-out for free. Pick-up a new one to try out every time you return the previous video.
By staying fit during winter you'll be able to avoid gaining weight, have a head start on swimsuit season, and avoid losing strength and stamina caused from inactivity. Just as tulips need winter nourishment from the Earth to strongly bloom in spring, humans need to continue to nourish their bodies during winter so they too can bloom come spring.
 
Lynn Bode is a certified personal trainer specializing in Internet-based fitness programs. She founded Workouts For You, which provides affordable online exercise programs that are custom designed for each individual. Visit: http://www.workoutsforyou.com for a free sample workout.
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