Living Columns & Blogs

How to stay fit when temperatures drop

The warm weather, sun and occasional cool breezes of summer seem to make everything a bit better, don’t they? Warmer months even make it simpler for us to stay in shape. Let’s face it, physical activities like walking, gardening and biking are fun things to do! As winter months approach, however, these forms of exercise may not feasible, making the motivation to get moving more difficult.

While hibernating for the winter may sound appealing, in order to return to the things we love in the summer without any physical setbacks, it’s important that we keep ourselves healthy and strong during colder months. The good news is, there are plenty of fun ways to keep your cardiovascular and strength fitness routines on track, even in chillier seasons.

Take it outside

If you are someone who loves walking, you can still take walks outdoors if you are brave enough to face the cold. When you do, make sure you always account for the wind chill factor before heading out. The thermometer may not accurately reflect how the weather will feel on your skin. Always dress in layers and consider investing in a windbreaker-type jacket. This will help keep the air away from your skin and prevent perspiration from freezing. Bright reflective colors are also very important for outdoor activities, allowing you to be seen in rainy, dark and cloudy weather.

An inside job

If braving the elements isn’t your thing, or you’re looking for alternative workouts for the most bitter of days, think about taking a few laps around your neighborhood shopping mall or consider joining a gym or fitness club, which are great options when the weather seems unbearable. If you are new to a gym, a personal trainer is a great option to help get you familiar with the exercise machines and get you on track with exercises to best suit your goals and fitness level.

You don’t have to be a member of a fitness club to stay in shape. There are plenty of exercises you can do in your living room. There are many body weight exercises that can be done in a circuit style of training. The goal of this type of workout is to keep your heart rate elevated while working all the major muscle groups in your body. The best part about doing circuits is the ability to vary them each day. They also don’t require a lot of equipment and you can get both resistance and cardiovascular training done in a short period of time.

Start out slowly when you first begin, maybe one or two exercises to start. An example circuit might include a lunge to get the heart rate up, followed by an upper body exercise like wall pushups, and then a core exercise like side bends to finish up. Don’t worry if that’s too much for now. Start with what you can do where you are in your fitness journey. Slow and steady is the name of the game. Once you get the hang of it, feel free to get more creative with the exercises and don’t be afraid to try new movements and add them into your routine!

Just remember that staying active is what matters most, and rain or shine, it’s important to have fun!

Zoe Carr, HFS, is a personal trainer with Mount Nittany Health Fit for Play.