Fitness Articles

Outwit Your Winter Workout Slump

Don't Let the Weather Become an Excuse

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It's tempting to take a tip from the bears and go into hibernation mode as soon as the temperature starts to fall, but if you change your perspective on it, winter can be the ideal time to ramp up your workouts. Staying active will allow you to enjoy the tastes of the season without apology or regret. But it's easy to give in to excuses when it's dark at 4:00 in the afternoon and the wind is sending an icy chill down your collar. Here are six solutions that will shut down your negative voice when you try to talk yourself out of your winter workouts.

Excuse #1: It's way too cold to go for my usual walk!
This is the perfect excuse to update your workout wardrobe for winter! To stay comfortably warm (without overheating) during outdoor workouts, you'll want to dress in layers. Look for fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin like polypropylene and polar fleece. (Your old cotton sweatpants just won't do!) Make sure you pay special attention to covering your head, hands and feet appropriately. When you're dressed appropriately, you will never feel cold.

Excuse #2: The sidewalk is covered with ice or snow. I don't want to slip and fall.
While there is such a thing as too cold and too icy for an outdoor workout, most of the time you'll be just fine with a few simple precautions. If your normal walking route takes you far away from home, change it up by zigzagging up down the streets of your neighborhood so you never stray too far. And be sure to bring a mobile phone with you just in case you get into trouble along the way. Finally, make sure you wear shoes that are designed to grip icy and snowy surfaces. Insulated hiking boots are perfect for walking in the winter. If you'd rather run, look into special traction devices you can attach to the bottom of your shoes for a better grip, like the Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System or YakTrax.

Excuse #3: It's dark when I go into work and dark by the time I get home. I don't want to go outside.
Who says you have to? Maybe you've been meaning to join a gym for a while, well now is the perfect time to do it. Many fitness centers offer membership specials in late December and January to encourage people to keep their New Year's Resolutions to exercise more. And if you're worried that you'll get bored slogging away on the treadmill or elliptical machine, just make sure you join a gym that offers group fitness classes so you can mix it up. Try a dance cardio class like Zumba or feel extra tough taking kickboxing.  You can even get conditioned for summer cycling by taking a regular Spinning class, then you'll be fully prepared to take advantage of the warm weather once it returns! If a gym isn't in your budget, remember that you can get a great workout at home, too!

Excuse #4: I have family in town for the holidays, so I don't have time to make it to the gym.
Invite them to join you in a fun winter activity like hiking, skiing or ice skating. An hour of ice skating burns about 300 calories—and it's fun! Even holiday shopping at the mall can be a calorie burner if you take advantage of the crowded parking lot to park far away and offer to carry everyone's purchases.

Excuse #5: I'm just haven't been in the mood to workout lately.
While it's not abnormal to have a little less energy during the cold and dark months of winter, if you're feeling down week after week you may be suffering from a form of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Common symptoms of SAD include weight gain, fatigue, irritability, hopelessness and anxiety. No wonder you don't want to work out right now! A simple treatment for SAD that you can do at home or at work is to spend 30-45 minutes sitting under a special fluorescent lamp, like this Day-Light Sky Lamp. Exercise is also a natural mood lifter. Instead of waiting to be "in the mood" to workout, try it anyway. Once you establish that routine, your mood will likely improve. If your symptoms are interfering with your daily life, see your doctor. Prescription antidepressants are also an effective treatment for SAD. Once your symptoms subside, it will be much easier to get your workout routine going again.

Excuse #6: I'm tired of spending so much time exercising indoors. It's boring!
Then it's time to investigate the fun winter sports that are available in your area. Ever tried snowshoeing? It can blast more than 500 calories an hour! Ice skating can burn up to 300 an hour. But what about something really fun? Sledding for an hour, when you're dragging the sled back up the hill repeatedly, can burn more than 450 calories, while a sport like Broomball (think ice hockey for the less coordinated) can burn 470 calories an hour. There's no reason for your workouts to be boring just because it's winter. Be creative, stay warm and get moving!
 

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Member Comments

  • This article could NOT have come at a better time! I was contemplating skipping my evening run tonight, so that I could write out and address holiday cards, wrap presents, and pack for out-of-town travel. But I knew that skipping it would leave me feeling more exhausted and stressed, despite the extra time I'd have to accomplish tasks. So now my goal is to do a quick three miles, and as much holiday-related stuff as I can AFTER my run. Thanks!
  • Strength and interval training are great! I've been putting in one 6-7 mile run each week, but those don't leave me a sweaty, panting mess the way a good interval workout does, especially if I do my intervals with a kettlebell. Strength training, on the other hand, just energizes me and leaves me feeling ready to take on the day.

    As for finding time in a stressful season, well, hubby said that I'm not allowed to stop working out because exercise is what keeps me pleasant! If THAT doesn't make exercise a priority -- peace a home -- I don't know what does!

About The Author

Megan Patrick Megan Patrick
Megan Lane Patrick has been a professional writer and editor for the past 16 years, and was a chronic dieter for at least 30. A combination of weight-loss surgery, mindful eating and daily exercise finally allowed her to maintain a weight loss of more than 100 pounds. When she's not lifting weights at the gym, you can find her walking shelter dogs as a volunteer for the SPCA.



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