Buckle up – gone are the long winters of hibernation-inspired, 3-month-long couch dwelling. No more can “but it’s too cold” be the default acceptable excuse for not exercising in the winter. Yes, it’s chilly, and yes, the weather does sometimes prevent us from doing certain exercises outdoors. However, you don’t have to bid a sad adieu to your much-loved outdoor fitness habit.
Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
Have you ever tried snowshoeing? Cross-country skiing? Winter hiking? Or, get this, snow kayaking (yes, you actually ride down a hill in a kayak!)? It turns out that there are a plethora of winter fitness options. Heck, you could even break out the sled and it counts as exercise as long as you’re hoofin’ it back up the hill each time.
Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, challenge your neighbors to a snow shovel race. What started out as an innovative way for ski instructors to get down the hills after the lifts closed has become an actual sport. Sit on the shovel straddling the handle, and race, sled-style, down a hill. Be careful, though – shovel racers have been known to reach speeds up to 60 miles per hour! We definitely recommend a helmet for this fun and wild activity.
Vitamin D, where art thou?
This “sunshine vitamin” is in short supply when the sun makes only a brief showing each day. Sure, you can take a supplement, but being able to soak in some sun, even if it’s just a few weak rays, can do wonders for your energy and emotions. Add in the endorphins produced by some heart-pounding exercise, and your mood will likely experience a wonderful, all-natural boost.
Too cold? Then why not get sweaty?
If the thought of heading outside to the frosty air for a hike makes you want to run for the comforter and hot chocolate, think again. If the winter makes you pine for warmth, try working up a major sweat outside. Feeling the “internal fire” of a heart-pumping workout will make your entire body feel nice and toasty, no slippers or heated blanket required.
Extra special benefits await.
Ready for some good news? Exercising in colder weather will actually burn more calories. Your metabolism raises higher to warm up your body, and that extra bit of effort leads to more calories torched. Not only that, you can actually strengthen your heart, lungs, and circulatory system even more than normal when you exercise in cold weather.
While we are a huge fan of getting exercise in any weather, do keep in mind that cold weather introduces an element of potential injury. Be sure to steer clear of icy spots when running or walking. Also, because physical exertion in the winter does put a significant amount of greater stress on your heart, consult your doctor before beginning an outdoor winter exercise regimen.
Exercising outside in the winter? It can be a great, mood-boosting, fitness-enhancing practice. Take this opportunity to try a winter activity you’ve never done, or relive your younger years with an old favorite. Then, come the spring and summer, you’ll be so glad you did.