Dropping temperatures and shorter days can make it harder for even the most motivated people to get up and go exercise. But there are many good reasons to get your heart pumping during the winter despite the easy excuses not to.
For example, because exercise is a natural mood lifter, it can prevent the cold and dark of winter from dampening your spirits, says the NHS. Physical activity burns calories and helps fight winter weight gain, which is something to consider around often indulgent winter holidays. Importantly, some research shows that exercise boosts your immunity to help keep you from getting sick.
It's important to know how to stay healthy year round. After your doctor says you're healthy enough, you can try these heart-pumping activities for the winter months, no matter where you live or what the weather is like.
If You Live in a Milder Climate
- Stick to your favorites. You can keep up your favorite exercise, whether it's running, walking or biking, but keep an eye on weather conditions. Dress in layers to adapt to whatever temperatures you face that day. You can remove a layer or two if you get too warm.
- Try something different. Being active during the winter can take the form of many new and surprising activities, like bowling, roller skating, belly dancing and yoga. Any activity that gets your body moving counts.
If You Live in the Snowy North
- Use the weather as the gym. Shovel snow, hit the ski slopes or go sledding. Just be sure to dress appropriately for the outdoors. And go waterproof — when you're wet, you feel colder and increase your chances for hypothermia.
- Take it inside. Find a gym where you can use the treadmill or other machines or take group classes. Walk an indoor mall, or find a school or college that will let you use its indoor track.
Protecting your hands, face and feet becomes important when you're out in colder temperatures. Blood flows first to your core to keep your vital organs warm, explains the Mayo Clinic — that's why your fingers and toes feel colder the longer you're out, also making them susceptible to frostbite. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests applying petroleum jelly as a great way to protect your face from wind burn, but don't forget sunscreen. The sun's rays can be just as damaging in the winter. It's also important to stay hydrated whenever you're working out.
You don't have to ditch exercise because the elements are against you. Embrace the seasonal changes as an opportunity to switch up your regular routine or start a new one.