Exercising in Winter’s Cold Weather Months

There are many health benefits to continuing the exercising schedule you maintained during the warmer summer months on through the winter.

Regular exercise will boost your immune system by improving your lymphatic and cardiovascular circulation. However, the effects of exercise on improved immunity are short lived. To optimize these good effects, it’s important to exercise regularly. In addition to the boost in immunity, exercise also helps lower stress and ease the winter blues know as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Seasonal Affective Disorder may be caused by a combination of factors such as lack of sunlight, inactivity and not getting proper nutrition – especially enough Vitamin D. Regular moderate exercise helps release essential endorphins to keep the blues at bay. In addition to the energy boost and helping with weight control, moving your exercise outdoors will help maximize your Vitamin D levels.

Exercising outdoors can be fun (snowball fight anyone?) and rewarding, but be sure to take the time to prepare for the outdoor weather. It’s recommended that you dress in layers so you can remove or unzip one layer if you get too hot. Your base layer should be something made of a thin sweat-wicking fabric. The middle layer should be a thicker sweat-wicking fabric like fleece and running tights or pants. Half-zip tops work well for this layer. For the top layer, you’ll want something that is wind and water resistant. Once properly dressed be sure to warm-up before you start exercising. Take extra time warming up and start out easy. In addition to dressing appropriately for the outside temperatures, you also need to stay hydrated. We tend to drink less in winter because it’s cold, but your body still needs water to function properly. When exercising outside at night, stay in well lit areas and wear bright reflective clothing.

If the idea of an outdoor hike or run in the cooler weather is just not inviting to you, there are many indoor options. You can build your own gym for about $50. Some hand weights, an exercise ball and a jump rope are all you need to get an effective workout. You can also create your own workout by combining popular and effective calisthenics like jumping jacks, squats, planks, lunges, push-ups and crunches. If you are already fit, incorporating hand weights or an exercise ball, along with the calisthenics will increase the intensity. Various fitness magazine websites have calisthenic type workout videos that you can view. There are also workouts that require no equipment at all. “No equipment” workouts use your body weight as the resistance in the exercises, all you need is some open space and you’re good to go. DVDs and TV can be a good source for workouts like yoga or pilates. Local libraries offer exercise DVDs you can check-out for free. You could also walk at a local mall. Many malls have walking programs/clubs were you can meet new people and stay motivated. And finally, an intramural sports team or group workouts are two other great options.

Whether your exercise goal is to lose weight, sculpt your physique or improve your health and fitness, keeping motivated can help you achieve success. Small things can help keep you motivated, such as meeting a friend for an exercise class. Reward yourself for keeping up an exercise schedule or for having met a goal. Reward yourself with a movie night, a new pair of running shoes or DVD. A healthy and happy family is also motivating. Turn “WiiFit® night” into a regular fun family activity to keep active and spend time with your family all at the same time.

Whether you choose to exercise outdoors or indoors during the colder months, keeping yourself motivated to staying fit is key. Health is well worth the effort for you and your family.

reference: emaxhealth.com, exercise.about.com/od/healthinjuries.htm, weightlossresources.co.uk