When winter blows in, you can pull the blankets over your head and go back to sleep—or you can suit up and head out for an outdoor winter adventure! The American Heart Association offers these tips for working out in the cold of winter.
when the temperature drops. In fact, exercising in cooler weather has some distinct advantages over working out in warmer weather.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- No heat and humidity to deal with. Winter’s chill might even make you feel awake and invigorated.
- You may be able to work out longer in cold weather—which means you can burn even more calories.
- It’s a great way to take in the sunlight (in small doses). Not only can light improve many people’s moods, it also helps you get some vitamin D.
- Exercise boosts your immunity during cold and flu season. Just a few minutes a day can help prevent simple bacterial and viral infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
winter fitness tips
- Try these outdoor activities:
- Brisk walking or hiking
- Jogging or running
- Raking leaves
- Shoveling snow
- Ice skating
- Cross-country skiing
Stay Warm, Stay Safe Staying warm and dry when heading out to exercise in cold weather is all about layers. A little preparation can keep you safe from cold weather hazards like hypothermia and frostbite.
Cold temperatures, strong winds and damp conditions (like rain and snow) steal your body heat. For example, according to the National Weather Service, a 30-degree day with 30-mile-an-hour wind feels like about 15 degrees. And if you get wet (from rain, snow or perspiration) that effect is only magnified. That’s why layers of clothing are so important. They help trap the heat and form a kind of insulation against the elements.
Resist your instinct to start layering with cotton. Once cotton becomes wet with sweat or snow, the moisture is trapped and will actually make you feel colder (and heavier). For your first layer, you want something that pulls moisture away from your skin, like the moisture wicking fabrics used in high-performance sportswear. Next, add a layer of fleece; finally, top with a thin waterproof layer.
Know the Signs
Hypothermia means the body temperature has fallen below 35 degrees Celsius or about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It occurs when your body can’t produce enough energy to keep the internal body temperature warm enough. It can kill you.
Symptoms can include:
lack of coordination
cold feet and hands
Children and the elderly may be at more risk because they may have limited ability to communicate or impaired mobility. Elderly people may also have lower subcutaneous fat and a diminished ability to sense temperature, so they can suffer hypothermia without knowing they’re in danger.
Don’t forget to drink water when exercising in cooler weather. Thirst isn’t the best indicator that you need to drink.
If the winter weather prevents you from getting outside, don’t just reach for the remote. Make your time inside count. There are many ways to get physical activity indoors—no gym required. Hand weights or resistance bands are a great addition, but not necessary. You can also wear a heavy backpack to add intensity to your workout.
Try these indoor activities
Follow the American Heart Association physical activity recommendations of at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week to improve your quality of life. Move more, with more intensity, and sit less.
What if I’m recovering from a cardiac event or stroke?
Some people are afraid to exercise after a heart attack. But regular physical activity can help reduce your chances of having another heart attack.
The AHA published a statement in 2014 that doctors should prescribe exercise to stroke patients since there is strong evidence that physical activity and exercise after stroke can improve cardiovascular fitness, walking ability and upper arm strength.
If you’ve had a heart attack or stroke, talk with your doctor before starting any exercise to be sure you’re following a safe, effective physical activity program.
10 Top Winter Fitness Tips
Just because the snow is piled above your head is no excuse to mope around on the couch. Here are ten top winter fitness tips!
Walk. It’s easy; it just takes a good pair of shoes or boots. With boots and a coat, the extra weight makes it even better exercise. Just be careful of icy patches on the ground.
Run. Running is like walking fast. You won’t need as warm clothes for running as for walking, because your body will generate more heat. And vigorous exercise appears to ward off disease.
Skate, snowshoe or ski. If running seems too pedestrian for you, these are some great variations custom-made for winter. They are ideal for getting family and friends to share an activity together while keeping fit. You will need some equipment and a place to do it, so this is more of an “outing” than walking or running.”
Geocache. This is a fun activity that will get you out and moving about. You’ll need GPS (such as on your cell phone) and Internet access. Find treasures hidden in your area at the official Geocaching web site. Then the hunt is on!
Shovel. The one upside about winter is that it forces me to exercise just to get out my door. Be careful about twisting your body incorrectly.
Snow angels. Who says you have to be a kid to make snow angels? It’s fun for adults and it gets you out into the snow, which is already better than staying on the couch.
Snowmen. The snow angels need snowmen to watch over. As long as the snow has some stickiness, you can build snowmen, snow women, snow puppies or even a snow fort.
Snowball fight. It doesn’t matter what age you are, a snowball fight is always fun. And it is a fine way to get moving in winter weather.
Slide. Hopping on a toboggan or a sled, throwing your hands in up in the air and crying out “Wheel might not seem like a lot of exercise, but climbing up the hill in the first place is great for winter fitness.
Stairs. Speaking of climbing, take the stairs. Whenever you get the chance, avoid elevators and escalators. Stairs are your indoor gym to help you make up for the walking that you probably do less of in winter.
If you can’t wait for spring to come around, at least keep fit in the meantime. How many of these ten ideas can you put to use this week?
Sources – Staying Fit During the Winter and Checklist: 10 Ways to Stay Fit in Winter
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