Feeling the seasonal blues yet? The double winter whammy of lack of exercise and sunshine will leave you feeling tired and down. Use the ˜if you can’t beat it, join it’ mentality when it comes to winter. Exercise may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you gaze out at the pile of snow outside your window, but with good gear and the right activities, the outdoors can be your winter wonderland to fitness. Here are some steps to make it happen.
Get in gear
Many of us feel the cold a lot faster because we are just not wearing the right winter gear. Forgetting to wear essential items like a hat, gloves and scarf can leave us quickly running back inside “ to never come back out. Remember that most of our body heat escapes from the top, so wearing a snug winter hat will go a long way to keeping you warm. Choose a high-tech, synthetic fabric like fleece “ it will keep you dry and warm rather than sweaty and cold. Your shoes should also have some sort of traction to grip to snow and ice.
Fitness experts recommend at least a 10-minute warm up before heading out the door because your muscles and heart need more time to adapt in cold weather. By doing a little pre-workout, your body will feel warmer, lessening the shock of cool temperatures. Once you get going, your body heat will keep you toasty.
Find an accomplice
It’s always easier to get motivated when you enlist company, and so many winter weather activities “ like ice-skating, skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing “ are best when shared. The bonus: they’re so much fun, you won’t even notice you’re working hard. An hour of ice-skating, for instance, can burn around 425 calories while toning your rear view; and skiing, a full-body workout that targets your shoulders, arms and thighs, can burn over 500 calories.
Keep healthy habits
Eating right for the weather is also essential for winter workouts. Just because it’s cold and you may not be sweating as much as you would in warm weather, make sure to drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. Pack snacks if you’re planning a long outing “ walnuts will keep your energy up and a bonus: the essential fatty acids can help keep dry winter skin moisturized from the inside. Follow your workout with a hearty meal “ a stew will warm your insides and give you all the veggies and protein you need to help your muscles repair and relax.
Keep it simple
You don’t have to invest in a whole new cold-weather wardrobe and a garage-full of skis and snowshoes to keep fit in winter. It’s actually quite simple to do: when you’re short on time or imagination, simple activities like snow shoveling, a snowball fight or a short walk will do just fine. And remember the benefits. That light sweat comes with an intense calorie burn, thanks to the extra layers you’re sporting and the extra work required to move through the snow. Your mood will also improve “ time in the sun helps boost serotonin levels in the brain, which make you happier and help control cravings for fatty comfort foods. And on its own, exercise produces so many feel-good endorphins, you’ll forget why you ever dreaded the winter in the first place.