Staying fit in winter

When the cold sets in and the weather gets rough, it can be difficult to keep up your regular exercise routine. You might have new physical tasks to contend with, like shoveling snow, but they’re unlikely to do all that’s needed to keep you fit or in good shape. What can you do to keep on feeling good and ensure that you’re ready to go when spring arrives?

Outdoor activities

Exercising in rain or hail isn’t much fun but once the snow starts, you may find that it presents opportunities to engage in winter sports. You won’t need to go to an expensive resort to do this. Simple sledding or skiing can be done on any reasonably even slope and if you live in a flat area you can still have a go at cross-country skiing or snowshoe walking. If you have children or friends who are up for it, a simple snowball fight can actually use a lot of energy.

Looking after your body

Injuries during exercise are more common in the winter, and not just because of slips and slides. When your body isn’t moving as fluidly as usual because of the cold, you’re much more likely to strain or tear muscles. To avoid muscle stiffness, warm up carefully with gentle stretches and shakes before any exercise, especially if you’re outdoors at the time, and wear a compression shirt (underneath layers if necessary) to help your maintain healthy circulation and posture. When you’re outdoors, carry a flask of warm (not hot) drink with you and have a couple of mouthfuls before you start getting active. Remember to protect your extremities. Even if you don’t expect to be cold for long enough for them to get seriously hurt, numb toes can mean you move differently and risk ankle injuries. Make sure you’re wearing the right footwear.

Simple indoor workouts

If you’re staying indoors, there are still things you can do to ensure that you keep fit. The simplest, which doesn’t require any equipment, is jogging on the spot. If you do it for ten minutes in the morning straight after you get out of bed, it will help you to feel energized throughout the day, as well as improving the way you metabolize your breakfast.

Because jogging like this only uses one set of muscles, it’s best to do some other types of indoor exercise as well. Star jumps are great because they speed up the rate at which your circulation gets going and they loosen up your upper body. If you have room, jumping rope has a similar effect. If you count the number of repetitions you do in this kind of exercise, as well as timing it, you can compare the two to see how well you’re doing, and gradually try to build up so you can increase your fitness.

If you get bored by repetitive exercise, dancing to your favorite music is a great alternative. Just remember that if you choose to set a slower pace, you’ll need to do it for longer in order to get the same benefit.

Helpful equipment

Jogging on the spot works for some people but others find it limiting. If you’d rather run more naturally, a treadmill can be a good purchase, and you won’t have to spend a great deal to get a good one. If you’d rather put your whole body into it and you have room in your home, a cross trainer is also a good option.

If you’re already doing things like jogging and skipping and you want to move your body in a different way, it’s worth considering a good old-fashioned exercise bike. Because of the position they put your body in, they’re easy to ride while watching TV, and you can choose between racing hard to really challenge your muscles or enjoying a slower, longer ride which challenges your endurance.

If you really want to work on muscle tone at the same time as having a cardio workout, getting a set of dumbbells significantly increases your options. There are all sorts of different exercises you can do with them, but the simple fact that you can use them to make your heart and lungs work hard while sitting or lying down means that you won’t find yourself unable to exercise if you suffer a leg injury.

With all these options open to you, there’s no excuse for letting winter get the better of you. the festive season many see you eating more than usual but you’ll have plenty of opportunities to work it off before spring arrives.

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