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How to stay in shape during winter

January 5, 2017

How to stay in shape during winter

January 5, 2017

When the days get colder, darker and shorter, our motivation to stay physically active is put to the test. Would you rather want to spend a gloomy January morning in bed having coffee or tea or weathering the cold on a run? Keeping up a regular fitness routine once winter hits is a challenge, but we collected some tips – besides going to the gym – to make it a little easier.

1. Small changes go a long way
It is not always necessary to make extreme changes in order to achieve your fitness goals or at least approach them. Paying attention to your everyday habits and being mindful of them can go a long way. First of all, let us start with something quite obvious: walking. As long as the weather allows it, walk as much as you can. It is a light workout and frees your mind at the same time. Especially during winter, when a lot of time is spent inside, try to savour the moments you get to breathe fresh air.

Also underrated: stair climbing. Taking the stairs more often is one of those things everyone knows they could do, but using elevators and escalators nevertheless seems to be a given. You should try and change that because stair climbing is a form of exercise and it is one you can easily incorporate into your daily life. Who hasn’t been out of breath after climbing up a couple of flights of stairs? It is great for your cardiovascular health and improves leg power by strengthening the gluteal muscles and calves among others. Also, climbing up stairs burns more calories than jogging per minute. And don’t forget that you not only burn calories going up, but going down as well. Win-win situation! Apart from the physical benefits such as weight loss and building muscles, making a conscious effort to take more stairs can also help improve your mental well-being. Being physically active is a proven and effective way to help reduce stress and anxiety. On top of all of this, think about the benefits of avoiding cramped elevators in the future. Finally, like with any other exercise, you can start off slow and then increase the number of stairs you take day by day. The good thing here is that – again – it is super easy to start making it a habit.

2. Take advantage of the cold
While the cold weather can impose quite a challenge on outside workout routines, it introduces new possibilities at the same time as well. Challenge yourself by taking on a new winter sport and keep in mind that most of these activities are fun so you will get a powerful cardio workout without properly realising. If you have the opportunity, try cross-country skiing for a full-body workout, using your own locomotion to move forward. It is also an aerobic sport and your body is constantly moving. Cross-country skiing burns over 400 calories per hour, even at a slow pace. Ice skating is another great exercise that you can practice outside as well as inside (if you happen to not live in a cold place). Besides strengthening your legs and burning calories, ice skating is a great way to improve your balance. Even as an amateur, going for a few spins on the ice rink is an out of the common and effective form of exercise. If you are feeling competitive, why not gather some of your friends and even try ice hockey. There are several other fun and offbeat winter activities for you to try such as winter mountain biking, ice climbing or airboarding.

3. Step up your indoor game
If the weather makes you want to stay inside, find ways to successfully work out at home. There are several effective ways to exercise that do not require you to join a gym or even leave the house on a cold winter day such as jumping jacks, squats, burpees or push-ups. Bodyweight exercises are a perfect way to build strength in all big muscle groups and burn calories at the same time. They are easily done at home, no equipment needed. Doing bodyweight exercises regularly – at least 2 to 3 times per week – will help you build lean muscle, have more energy and encourage your metabolism. Using your own body to build strength is an altogether convenient, cheap and versatile way of working out. If you get bored with exercising at home, you can always switch it up by customising your routine and incorporating new elements. You make the rules. And last but not least, you can smoothly take the work out that you have perfected all winter outside once warmer weather comes back around.

If you do want to leave your house but the thought of a crowded gym puts you off, do not fall into despair. There are plenty of activities to choose from. For example, a lot of cities have indoor trampoline parks now. Jumping on a trampoline is not only a lot of fun but also makes you sweat and improves stamina and coordination along the way. Rebounding is an effective low-impact cardio workout that tones your legs. If you do not have trampoline parks close to where you live, consider getting a mini trampoline or rebounder to use at home. The good news is that you can even use those for modified versions of squats, planks or push-ups.

In conclusion, while the cold weather does present a challenge to staying fit, it ultimately comes down to what you make of it. Make a habit out of incorporating as much physical activity into your days as possible, find a winter sport you actually enjoy and explore new ways to work out indoors to make dodging the gym worthwhile.


Image by AlekZotoff/iStock


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