Does your workout schedule dwindle in the winter?
Do you put on some “winter weight” each year?
Add more activity to your days with these practical cold weather exercise tips. Read more for ideas on how to get out of the house and exercise this winter.
The many benefits of exercising outdoors include fresh air, sunshine and a change of scenery. Those living in warm areas will have an easier time getting outside year round. If you live in a temperate climate, the drastic weather changes can have a huge effect on your exercise schedule in winter.
In winter months, many people are negatively affected by the shorter days, colder temps and lack of sunshine. Weight gain, irritability, lethargy and depression can be just a few of the side effects of the winter blahs. Missing your time to exercise and gaining weight can add to this winter funk!
It is not necessary to allow cold weather to end your workouts until spring. With some smart planning, warm clothing, proper footwear and accessories, cold weather doesn’t need to slow you down.
As long as you are prepared for the cold temps and sometimes slippery footing, cold weather doesn’t need to limit your workouts in winter. Winter walking is quite different if you are living in snowy climates. Walking in snow, slush and ice can be quite challenging. But snow and ice don’t need to stop you from exercising. Just think of it as your kick it up a notch or HIIT winter workout. Wearing heavy duty shoes with a good grip is important. Keep reading for ways to stay prepared and keep motivated.
How to Prepare
Dress in multiple layers to stay warm. Bundle up at first and then unzip or remove layers as you no longer need them. Wear leggings or thermals underneath your sweats or yoga pants. In medium cold weather, I wear Spanx or Jockey Slimmers under my pants. They keep me warm and looking good at the same time! When our weather is very cold, I go straight for my ski pants with leggings underneath. Wear several layers on top as well, you can always unzip a layer if you get too warm.
Dressing for winter walking is like preparing for skiing, except you won’t need the skis!
Protect extremities with accessories! Wear proper gloves, warm socks and remember a scarf and hat. Thin glove warmers worn under mittens give you warmth and flexibility when needed. I like to double up on my socks using a thin and a thick pair. My favorite “scarf” is a neck warmer from skiing that helps keep my chin warm as well. Some of the longer scarves unwind and get in the way when I’m busy walking. Large pockets in my outer layer jacket help hold any accessories I remove as I warm up.
Warm up in the house, literally! Don’t just stand there, start a stretching warm up in your house before going outside. This makes a huge difference for me! I stretch and do some planks on the couch (more here about my lazy-girl planks). I’m already warm after planking when I go out in the cold. Put all your warm clothes on and begin a stretching or warm up routine inside. As soon as you feel warmer, leave the house to start your workout. Your body temp will adjust as you start moving and you won’t feel the cold as much.
Wear proper shoe support for the type of terrain you are walking on. Walking and running sneakers are good for pavement but not best for trudging or hiking though the forest, snow or ice. Low boots with a good grip help me walk well through most conditions. If I am truly walking in snow, I need my real boots with ski pants and ski socks. Just putting on all the clothing can be a workout! Keep all your winter workout clothing handy and you will be more likely to get out and move.
Keep Tissues in your Pocket! Walking in cold weather does wonders for clearing out your sinuses. Remembering to have tissues with you is a good idea.
Bring music for motivation! I am much more likely to walk for a longer time if I have my earbuds in. Many years ago I bought myself an iPod Shuffle that clips on to my jacket. Ten years later, I’m still using it!! I have the same iPod with constantly updated music. I do not choose to bring my phone, I prefer to remain unplugged for exercise.
Keep yourself Motivated
Winter walking is just a different approach to getting ready and walking. Much heavier clothing and the right footwear is necessary. I have some low Merrell and Land’s End slip-on shoes that work well for slightly mushy or icy conditions. My taller, warmer boots are best for heavy snow conditions.
When I wear my boots, I walk much differently than I do in sneakers. I have to work harder to balance so I’m actually using more core muscles to stabilize. I’m getting a good workout because I have to work harder to get through the snow. Generally, I walk a shorter distance in very cold weather. I would rather walk a little less distance in cold weather than not get out to walk at all.
I don’t need to wait until warm weather to walk again. It is important to prepare differently for winter walking. I wear a layer of leggings or thermals or leggings under my sweats or yoga pants. I prefer three layers on top for cold weather. One of my top layers is always a turtleneck so I don’t always need to bring a scarf.
When I get out and walk, particularly in winter, I feel much more accomplished for the day. It is so easy to fall into the mode of curling up on the couch with a book. If I already went for my walk, curling up on the couch is part of my reward.
Other ways to add more exercise in winter
Snow shoveling is a serious workout! I love to put on my headphones, ski pants, boots and shovel the snow. This is especially fun after dark when everything seems to glow! Rather than waiting until all the snow has fallen, I prefer to go out shoveling several times. I get plenty of exercise but I’m not over-doing it by trying to shovel too much snow at once. Be careful and avoid hurting your back.
Winter yard work will keep you moving. Unless you have a year round gardener, there always seems to be something to catch up in the garden. Trimming back the final fall foliage, emptying out old pots from annuals or cleaning the leaves from your beds are all good activities to add some exercise. Your yard will look that much better in the spring when you get back to it.
Walk the mall inside & outside. If it is too cold to really stay outside, you can cheat a little. Visit your local mall and alternate walking inside and outside. Go in one door and out the next exit so you walk part inside and part out! Make the colder outside walking your fast part of your workout. When you are back inside the mall, slow down and brace up for the next cold part. Afraid you may look silly to anyone who may notice, who cares? How old are you now? Do you really care what people think anymore? If you do, go to a mall a little further away from home!!
Related Exercise Posts
Don’t be unsafe! If the roads are truly icy, avoid them. We can walk on the grass if the snow is not too deep or visit a nearby hiking area that isn’t icy. I tend to stomp a bit to make sure my footing is safe. This stomping is just another addition to my workout since I need to work harder just to walk. For me winter walking in sometimes slippery footing is still preferable to being stuck in the house. If the roads and the weather are so bad we can’t walk, we do the sensible thing and walk at the mall instead.