Winter weather can often get the best of us.
The cold makes us want to curl up and snuggle in bed for days on end. However, as winter is the time of some of the best holidays, this season should not be the time to put your fitness goals on hold.
Table of Contests
- Why is it hard to exercise in winter?
- Why is it important to stay active in the winter?
- How can I be more active in the winter?
- What are the winter physical activities that you can do?
- What are the things to keep in mind when working out in the winter?
In this article, learn why it’s so hard to stay active in the winter season, some tips for you to get moving, and some fun (yet heart-pumping) activities that you can try. Get through the colder months and keep your fitness momentum going!
Why is it hard to exercise in winter?
Ever wonder why it’s so hard to get up during those cold winter months? Well, it turns out your body isn’t just being lazy, there’s a scientific reason why you become a hibernating grizzly in the icy season.
Astudy published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology found a correlation between vitamin D levels and the heart and lungs’ ability to supply oxygen to the muscles when exercising (cardiorespiratory fitness).
Since sunlight, our number one source of vitamin D, is scarce in the winter, it, in turn, affects our fitness levels. The researchers found that the participants with high vitamin D levels had better cardiorespiratory fitness compared to the participants in the low category.
Dr. Amr Marawan, one of the authors of the study says, “Our study shows that higher levels of vitamin D are associated with better exercise capacity.”
Why is it important to stay active in the winter?
- Avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Since you’re exposed to sunlight when working out outside even in the winter, it helps ward off SAD (which is a type of depression that people experience in the winter).
- Burn more calories. Several studies found that when exercising in cold weather, white fat can transform into calorie-burning brown fat.
- Improve endurance. According to Dr. Adam Tenforde, an assistant professor of sports medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard in colder temperatures. “You sweat less, and expend less energy, all of which means you can exercise more efficiently."
How can I be more active in the winter?
Here are some things that you can try to keep your active lifestyle during the winter season:
- Find a fun activity. The winter season brings many new and fun outdoor activities such as cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snow-shoeing, skating, and much more. Get out and explore new activities. Maybe even try something you may have never done before!
- Take advantage of all the times the sun shines. Try to go out and be active while the sun is out. Not every winter day is going to be dark and gloomy. Even if it is cold, bundle up and exercise outdoors, you will be surprised at how awake and alive you will feel playing outdoors in the sun.
- Try yoga. Yoga is great for getting your blood flowing and will greatly help with boosting your mood. In addition, you will stretch out all your sore spots which will leave you feeling fresh, relaxed, and rejuvenated. What's great about this is that you can join a yoga class or do it at home.
- Start your own home gym. Getting to the gym while fighting the cold outside can feel like a hassle and a chore. Watch and follow a workout DVD, or maybe invest in a treadmill or elliptical. You can even download free workout guides from the web! Whatever you do, be creative and find an exercise that you enjoy doing. Dedicate 15-30min per day to get your body moving!
- Change your state of mind. Finally, the most important for last! Even if you have never been the greatest fan of the winter season, stay focused on the things you do love about it – maybe it is the snow, or the holidays themselves. Whatever gets you excited use that to change the path of your thoughts when you are starting to feel miserable or groggy.
What are the winter physical activities that you can do?
The wintertime doesn’t have to mean spending much of your time indoors. Here are some fun activities that you can do that makes the most of the snowy winter weather:
- Jogging. Jogging is very effective at burning off calories, and it's how many people start their exercise routines. You can do this activity in the comfort of your local area, or if the weather is permitting; take it outside!
If you're jogging on a treadmill then set the speed to 3-4 mph because that will help you maintain a steady pace for about 45 minutes. After every hour you jog, take a 5-minute break to recover, and then get right back into it!
- Cross country skiing. A lot like ice skating, cross country skiing is great exercise and will help lose those extra winter pounds. While this physical activity is very similar to ice skating, it's different because you are doing a lot of upper body work with poles that are used for balance.
So, if your goal is to tone up, then this is definitely the winter activity for you. Plus, cross country skiing gives you more of an outdoor experience so you can enjoy winter in all its beauty while getting in shape!
- Ice skating. Ice skating is a ton of fun, but it's also an excellent workout! Not only are you burning tons of calories, but the resistance associated with skating makes this activity very effective at building muscle.
For example, if you weigh 140 pounds and skated for one hour straight, you would have burned over 1000 calories - now how many calories can your typical gym workout burn off? If you're planning on ice skating as a winter activity, keep in mind how often and how long you skate because it can really affect how much weight loss results from this fun activity.
- Sledding. Now, this activity has been around for a while, but how many of you still go sledding? It's such great fun, plus it helps you burn off some extra calories before the big meal on Thanksgiving!
If you choose to head out to your local hill with the family, be sure that they have already inspected the area for grooming and removed any obstacles. You don't want someone getting injured because of poorly maintained equipment or areas.
What are the things to keep in mind when working out in the winter?
- Dress in layers. This is good for both warmth and flexibility. You can always peel layers off as your body heat goes up, and put them back on when you cool down. Plus, never forget your head, ears, hand, and feet - bundle them up, as well! Learn more about your winter gear essentialshere.
However, to start you off, here are some of the absolute must-haves:
- Glove liners. Make sure that your hands stay toasty as you wear glove liners under your gloves. Glove liners allow you the option to take off your outer gloves without necessarily exposing your hands to the icy cold. Plus, enjoy another layer of warmth! Make sure that you choose the best one by reading thisguide.
- Balaclava. Protecting your entire face for those intense winter ventures is just as important! That’s why balaclavas should be a must in your travel bag if you’re heading to a winter haven. Ensure that you get ahigh-quality yet versatile balaclava to get the protection you need from theGearTOP shop!
- Stay hydrated. Remember to carry some water with you if you will be exercising more than an hour continuously – even this small effort demands some hydration! And always remember to bring water for your cool-down session, as muscles tend to warm up quicker than the rest of your body.
- Be wary of the signs of hypothermia. Hypothermia is a decrease in body temperature below the required temperature for normal metabolism and body functions. Although hypothermia usually occurs when it's very cold outside, milder temperatures are enough to cause this condition as well.
- Slowdown of movement
- Lack of coordination (moving limbs)
- Slurred speech/numbness/tingling/weak pulse/loss consciousness
- Be wary of frostbite. Frostbite happens when your skin tissue freezes due to extreme cold exposure – excess wind hampers blood flow to extremities such as fingers and toes, which can damage them severely if left untreated. It shows up as white or grayish patches on the skin; again, don't take chances and call 911 if there are any signs of severe or sudden frostbite!
- Wear sunscreen. Even if it’s cold out, it doesn’t mean that you’re not exposed to UVA/ UVB rays. So, make sure to put on some when you’re spending time outdoors.
The winter is not all that bad. Have fun and stay safe this season.
After a long day packed with outdoor activities, sit by the fireplace with a big mug of hot chocolate and enjoy the company of your family and friends. While it is important to stay active, enjoying time with the ones you love is what this season and the holidays within it are all about!
Staying warm and protected in the wintertime is just as important especially when you’re spending time outdoors. So, having your arsenal of outdoor protection gear for the cold should be one of your priorities.
Keep your winter warm and cozy with high-quality yet affordable cold wear. Visit the GearTOP shop today!