Staying healthy, fit, and active as we age is always important, and knowing how to stay fit in winter when the weather is less than desirable is essential. It’s so easy to curl up with a good book and a cup of coffee, and put off the exercise routine.
For me, there’s something about a bleak, gray winter sky that can really slow me down if I allow that to happen. But, being the stubborn girl that I am, I look out the window at that gloomy mess and proceed to pull out the free weights, or jog around the house for 20 minutes.
There are actually a number of healthy ways to stay fit and active when the weather is cold. If you’re a person who finds the cold weather invigorating and refreshing, you’ll enjoy the first section below that offers suggestions for safe outdoor workouts.
If the indoors call to you when the weather is cold, have a close look at the second section for helpful tips on staying fit with indoor exercise and workouts.
And, the bonus tips in the third section will help all of us to stay motivated, realistic, future-focused, and healthier all year long!
How to Stay Fit in Winter
If a regular exercise routine is something you’ve not been doing, make sure you’re physically able to perform the particular activity or fitness routine. Check with your physician if there is any uncertainty!
Take It Outdoors if You Can
Warm up indoors
Give yourself the gift of a warm up before heading out into the cold weather for your workout. Spend 10 minutes warming up your muscles, and they’ll thank you for it by being less prone to injury.
Ride a stationary bike, get in some steps, or do a short stretching and aerobic routine.
Layer the clothes you wear outside
Layering your clothes helps trap the heat and insulates your body from the elements.
An important tip to remember is to begin your layering with a moisture wicking fabric, not cotton. Cotton, once wet (with sweat, snow, etc) will actually trap the moisture and you’ll feel colder.
Your second layer should be fleece, and the final layer should be a thin waterproof fabric.
Get some vitamin D (with sunscreen!)
A few minutes of sunshine will not only give you a dose of vitamin D, it can also help brighten your mood, help you get more restful sleep, and help keep your bones strong.
Vitamin D promotes reduced inflammation and helps modulate cell growth. It’s hard to get what your body needs from food sources, so just 5-15 minutes of sun a few times a week can make a noticeable difference.
But sure to apply the sunscreen first, then let the sun shine on your face and arms for a short time to reap those benefits.
Take advantage of the low humidity and heat
If warm weather outdoor workouts seem like you’re exercising in a sauna, you might not mind the colder temps with the lower humidity and lack of heat.
In fact, you might even get in a longer workout because you’re not over heated, sweaty, and thinking about how hot you are!
It’s a personal decision, of course. For me, I’ll take the heat and humidity any day, and prefer to stay indoors for my exercise when it’s cold outside. But if the cold doesn’t deter you, prepare for the elements wisely, then go forth and exercise!
Try these outdoor activities:
There are many outdoor winter activities to help keep you strong and in shape. Always check to make sure your path is clear of ice and other hazards before walking, jogging, running, or hiking.
Here are just a few:
- walking briskly
- cross-country skiing
- ice skating
- light snow shoveling (if you are physically able to do this)
Indoor Exercise and Activity
There are so many ways to work off calories and get in shape by working out and moving around indoors. Here are just a few suggestions!
Use the stairs (including your own)
Do you have stairs in your home? Going up and down (or down and up!) the stairs can provide a wonderful cardio workout and get your legs in shape.
Take advantage of what is available to you in your home!
Do some mall-walking
Another tip for how to stay fit in winter is to get in a nice, long walk at the local mall. Keep in mind that if this is something you decide to do, it’s a brisk walk for exercise, not a casual saunter to window shop!
But, if you commit to walking briskly for an hour, the average number of calories burned is between 300 and 400, which is not too shabby.
If you find that having a workout buddy is motivating, find a friend to exercise with, virtually or literally.
It could be as simple as a morning phone call or face time conversation, setting the exercise goal for the day together. Just the act of stating out loud to a friend what you want to accomplish that day will help motivate you to actually get it done.
Change up the workout routine
Sometimes, just changing what you’re doing in terms of exercise can help motivate and inspire you to work harder.
Check out the free videos on YouTube, or research apps on your phone, until you find the workout routine that will keep you motivated. This change may wake up some muscles that had gotten used to a certain way of exercising. And that’s a good thing!
Walk inside your home
Unless you live in a tiny house, you have the option of walking, marching, or even jogging inside your home.
Have fun with it and turn on some music, tune in to a program or movie you enjoy, and keep your little feet moving for 20 to 30 minutes. Use your entire home if possible; walk from one end to the other, go in circles or figure ‘8s’, be creative.
Add some arm movement and stretches, perhaps some light hand weights, and your workout can become highly effective without ever leaving your home!
Take your indoor walk to a different level and dance your way through a few of your favorite songs. In fact, if you find 5 songs to dance to, you’ve just created a fun 20-minute workout!
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How to Stay Fit in Winter: Bonus Tips
Maintaining a healthy weight and ongoing fitness becomes more of a challenge as we get older, and go hand in hand with our desire to learn how to stay fit in winter. Here are some helpful and practical tips to consider.
Keep a food journal
When I’m really, truly serious about consistent, healthy eating, I pull out my Accountability Journal and track everything I eat, as well as workouts, vitamins, and water intake.
This can be particularly eye-opening in the winter months when we’re cooped up inside and find ourselves sauntering through the kitchen for a teeny little snack instead of heading outside for a walk.
It is always a time of self-realization for me, to see in black and white exactly what I’ve been consuming. Wintertime is the time when I need to be more vigilant about my eating habits, and a food journal helps to keep me honest.
Buy some new workout clothes
There’s something about a brand spanking new workout outfit that can motivate us to get up and get moving. And, let’s be honest, sometimes we need all the motivation we can get, to rouse ourselves up off of the sofa and into a mindset of a healthy workout. A set of flattering workout clothes will do the trick every time!
And, you don’t have to break the bank in order to find some new workout duds:
Resist the urge to wear baggy clothes every day
I know…I do the same thing when at home all day, every day. Throw on the comfy clothes and call it good.
That’s fine and of course, it’s comfortable to wear the stretchy pants and loose-fitting tops. But, remember that you still want to be vigilant about eating well and exercising.
It sure doesn’t feel good (or do anything for the self confidence) when you pull the jeans or slacks out of the closet and the zipper just doesn’t want to go up for some reason. Hmmm…
This is what works for me: I wear my ‘home office outfit’ to start the day, which usually includes jeans, a t-shirt, and sweater or similar, an outfit that could take me out the door and on an errand if needed.
Then, by mid to late afternoon, I’ll switch to the spandex and comfy top to finish the day, including my afternoon indoor exercise.
By starting out the day in my street clothes, I’m forcing myself to 1) look presentable and 2) make sure that I can still wear said street clothes comfortably!
Set your sights on the warmer weather with a goal
One way to work through the cold weather months is to stay future-oriented. Set a goal for yourself to work on during the winter: weight loss, firming up, strength training, endurance, nutrition, positive outlook, self confidence…just to name a few.
Remember that our minds and hearts need to be attended to regularly, and all are a part of a healthy lifestyle. So, your winter goal could, and probably should, encompass more than physical exercise.
Do you track your workout goals and results? How about other tasks, goals and dreams?
Thinking about a goal is one thing; putting it in writing takes you so much further toward turning it into a reality!
These are the tools and resources I use to keep myself accountable & plan for the future. LEARN MORE
Don’t be too hard on yourself, but stay committed
Try to avoid the negative self-talk that can drag us down and make it so much harder to accomplish our goals and move forward in life.
If you decide to set a goal of 8,000 steps each day, and the little tootsies just don’t quite get there, remember that tomorrow is a brand new day with a brand new opportunity for success. Life happens. Keep moving forward, one step at a time.
How to stay fit in winter? Be committed to yourself and your overall health, utilizing the indoor and outdoor options as available to you. It will take some effort, but the results will definitely be worth it!
Resources used in the creation of this post:
- 5 Ways the Sun Impacts Your Mental and Physical Health
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