4 Reasons, Preps, and Ways to Get your WINTER MOVE on!
How’s your workout routine this month? Are you an ‘all or nothing’ exerciser? For me, and maybe for you, the extra events and obligations of the holiday knocked me off my routine big time! I could barely fit in my morning walk, let alone a nice stretchy yoga session – especially with a 24hr 1400 mile non-stop drive to visit family. And back again 5 days later!
There’s a real need for us to keep those muscles toned and ready for ski, snowshoe, ice skating, even tobogganing with the kids to handle a full day and minimize injury if we’re gonna make the most if this winter fun! Getting your head – and body – around a short but effective workout like these four strength training exercises is definitely worth some consideration for a lively feeling of having moved and a little boost of that metabolism!
FOUR REASONS TO MOVE: The Bennies of Physical Activity
Being physically active is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Don’t believe me? Go visit an assisted living facility and check out who’s still active at what age and what their lifelong habits are – it’s true, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Regular physical movement can help:
- Maintain and control weight and extend health and lifespan
- Strengthen and increase circulation and nourishment to bones, muscles, and organs
- Reduce risk of chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes, (some) cancers, metabolic syndrome.
- Improve and support brain activity, mental health, mood, balance and abilities in aging
FOUR SIMPLE PREPS
I’m no trainer, but there are some great choices by trainers out there to tap into, and I’ve selected one that offers something for just about everyone. Whether you’re hard core or a lightweight strength trainer like me, these can be done in no time, with no special equipment, at your own level, or push it a little for that extra sense of accomplishment. Remember, you don’t have to hit the whole routine to benefit. Try for 3 sets in a day, for just 5 minutes each. Even fitting in ONE puts you in a better place than none, with more energy, lower stress, and a little calorie burn to boot! I fit mine in right when I get up, an hour or so before hitting the sack, and midday for a ‘sit’ break.
- PLANKS for tobogganing and xc skiing
- SQUATS for skiing and dancing the night away
- PUSH UPS for ice skating and snowshoeing
- CHAIR DIPS for, well, basically everything core
- Find the details for these workouts HERE
FOUR FUN AND EASY ACTIVITIES
I’ve been a ‘sort of fast’ walker for many years, and can attest that brisk walking is a good bet as an aerobic activity that is generally safe even if you’re just beginning to build your level of activity or are afraid of injury. The key, if you aren’t accustomed to so much activity, is to start slowly and build gradually as your body gets accustomed to moving with more intensity. Like that heart attack warning for sedentary folks running out to shovel snow, giving your body a chance to strengthen over time will create greater success and pleasure instead of aching joints, taxed muscles, and traumatized heart and lungs. What fun are those, after all? And of course, if you have a chronic health condition, check with your medical professional to ensure your activity plan matches your abilities for your level of health.
Overall, start within reason, push within reasonable comfort and health. The benefits of being active, doing as much as you can within any limitations, far outweigh your risks of harming yourself. Maybe your pride at first, but not your body! A good guideline to begin if you have not been active is approximately 60-80 minutes of aerobic activity weekly. For outdoor activity, dress appropriately in layers for the air temperature as well as the temperature you’ll be bringing your body to. No matter your age, size, or shape, you will benefit from moving!
Fun wintertime activities to consider:
- Cross Country Skiing
Yes, I teach downhill, but also love to cross country (XC) ski for several reasons.
It’s inexpensive! When I was in college, it was the only skiing I could afford, and did it regularly. Equipment is far less costly to purchase (hello, craigslist!) or rent, and often there are trails or golf courses to use for little or no fee.
Your pace is your own. Fast for a hard competitive workout, slow and easy, or a nice combo, you get to choose the workout that fits your needs, ability, and comfort level. On a trail where lots of skiers are passing you? Create your own trail next to it and do your own thing!
- It’s scenic! One of the best ways to get some time in nature and de-stress, even if it’s a city park.
- Comfortability! No matter the temperature, this activity will keep your circulation moving to keep you warm on all but the coldest days. And on those, toe warmers and hand warmers help.
- No snow in your area? Try roller skiing for similar health benefits!
- Ice Skating
Often thought of as a ‘kid’ activity, there are some good reasons to consider skating:
- It’s a great activity to build your balance, and sometimes strengthen your humility if you’re in Rockefeller Center with some pre-olympic dynamos trying out the fancy moves!
- Another activity where rentals are inexpensive if you don’t have your own. Used ice skates are also pretty easy to come by.
- Both indoor and outdoor rinks are usually available in wintery cold areas, and even in temperate areas indoor rinks are plentiful, with a range of open skate times available.
- MOST people on the rink with you are not going to show you up, and you can work on building those muscles. At worst, take a little kid so you have an excuse to use the supports they have available for beginners to hang onto!
- Not cold enough where you live? ROLLERBLADE, baby!
- Snow Removal…helping others *for snowy winter locations only.
This may not sound like fun…at first. But if you are a ‘giver’ at heart, this physical activity can be quite rewarding as well as a good workout when you get past your OWN walk and drive and offer your services to a less able bodied neighbor, senior, or friend. This is one activity I miss now that I’m out in the oft snowless high desert, I often went through a plate a year on our snowblower helping out the neighbors and clearing a path to the school a few doors down.
- Get s**t done. Sense of accomplishment! ‘Nuff said.
- Extra excuse to stay out longer since there’s a purpose that’s not just about you.
- Fresh air and good deeds
- A chance to create a pile of snow for a fun creation…just in case you want to exercise a little creative snow craft by building an igloo or one of those crazy fun snow sculptures!
- Snowshoeing and Snow Play
Crazy good workout, snowshoeing is a great activity for checking out areas that are not great cross country skiing.
- No trail needed, you just make your own.
- Extra fun to take them off once or twice on snowbanks and take selfies while you see how deep you sink into it.
- Got kids? Take ‘em with you, and trek out to a potential great sledding hill – where you can slip the snowshoes off for a couple of rides down double with the kiddies.
- And while you’re out, consider building a snow fort or tossing a couple snowballs! Remember, you’re never too old to have some active outdoor fun!
Bottom line, getting your ‘MOVE’ on needn’t be a chore. As kids, we naturally moved in our everyday play. Letting our play back into our lives lightens up our world, our demeanor, and our stresses. It opens us up to joy and creativity to bring back the balance not only in our physical bodies but in our hearts and our whole lives. Right now, winter, is a perfect opportunity to explore and bring back the fun in movement. Get those gloves out and go!
No snow in your area? Try roller skiing for similar health benefits!