Working out in the winter: Exercising and staying fit doesn’t have to be so hard
It’s not always easy to work out or maintain a fitness program during the winter months. You might be a workout and exercise fanatic throughout the summer months, hitting the beach, going on hikes, hitting the gym, generally burning more calories than you take in and maintaining a healthy weight. But once winter rolls around, you find it harder and harder to get out of bed and find it easier to stay indoors than hit the gym. Even when you stay indoors, you are not motivated enough to take part in any indoor exercise, thus effectively losing out on all of the benefits of exercise for those months.
While it is mostly easier to get out of the house and exercise when the weather is favorable, it is still possible to work out and maintain an effective fitness program through the cold weather.
Here is how to continue to work out in the winter months:
Get a good warm up routine going: It is very hard to make yourself go outside into the cold to exercise if you don’t take the time to warm up first. It is much easier to get outside for an exercise routine when you have taken ten minutes or more to warm up through aerobic exercise such as doing jumping jacks and jogging in place. When you do this, you are already warm and motivated by the time you step outside.
Look for alternatives to the gym: Some people are so much addicted to going to gym that they’d rather not exercise at all if they are unable to get to the gym. One of the easiest ways of avoiding the no gym-no exercise trap is to have fitness equipment at home. Depending on what you can afford, think about getting a stationary bike, a treadmill, a stair climber, weight lifts, exercise videos and other accessories that you can use to exercise when it’s difficult for you to get to the gym.
Form a clique: The reason why some people find it hard to get out and exercise during the winter months is because exercising can be a lonely endeavor. To counteract this, form a clique of friends to exercise with. This will work to keep you motivated, as social support helps to keep people active.
Find an alternative time: If you are an early morning exerciser and the lingering darkness in the winter months (alongside the cold) discourages you from getting your daily exercise, you might want to find an alternative time to exercise. Instead of exercising in the mornings, you might want to do so in the afternoon, perhaps during your lunch hour.
Be prepared: I find that preparing for the exercise session a day before helps to make things go more smoothly and makes the transition out of bed the following morning much less traumatic. You can prepare by laying out your exercise clothes and shoes, even as you pack your work bag and lay out your work outfit for the next day.
Wear the right exercise outfit: During the winter months, you have to be careful what kind of exercise clothes you have on, as the right clothing will make a huge difference to how you feel. Ensure that you layer up for warmth, as you can always shed layer after layer of clothing as you get warm. Stock up on lightweight tops, lightweight fleece for when it is dry and breathable light waterproof fabric for when it rains, a beanie and gloves.
So why exercise during the winter months?
There are five good reasons why you need to keep exercising even when the temperature drops. Here they are:
Vitamin D: The easiest way to get vitamin D is to expose the bare skin to sunlight. Even though the sun is weaker in the winter months than in the summer, it is still doing a decent job of getting your skin the level of vitamin D that it needs. So how do you get that vitamin D if you never step out into the winter sun to exercise? Also, you will do well to never forget that sunshine makes for strong bones, and helps to keep the immune system strong.
Continue to stay healthy: It is no news that regular exercise strengthens the human immune system and helps it to fight bacterial and viral infections. We all know that the winter months are when colds and the flu like to make an unwelcome appearance. This is why you need your immune system to be at its peak during the winter period, and a regular exercise regimen is one of the ways to see to this.
Make yourself feel good: When you exercise, your brain releases two feel good, de-stressing brain chemicals called serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals can help to reduce anxiety and depression while boosting wellbeing. So, you too can start to beat the winter blues.
Get some fresh air: The air outside is almost always fresher and healthier than the one inside. Getting outside for a brisk winter walk is an excellent way to breathe deeply and get some fresh air.
Avoid weight gain: We all have a tendency to gain weight around the holidays. Comfort food abounds during this period and because it makes us feel so good, we tend to eat a lot of it. It is said that the average person gains about 8 pounds in extra weight during the winter months. One sure way to avoid this weight gain is to continue to exercise during the winter months.
Now, reward yourself
So, you have managed to get a good winter exercise routine going? Well done, you. To make sure you don’t backslide, why not reward yourself with something not related to food, something like joining a pool or a gym with a sauna, soaking in a warm bath after a run, visiting the spa for a massage, and taking the occasional rest days, whatever works for you.