How to Crush Your Winter Workouts
As the winter months become busier and the weather becomes nastier, it gets more and more difficult to keep up with a consistent exercise habit. Exercise is essential for healthy living, especially during the cold, dark winter months when you’re at greater risk for seasonal depression. We have some winter workout tips for maintaining a healthy routine during the frigid Long Island winter.
Why Exercising in Winter is Important
Exercising helps combat the “winter blues.” When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, and these chemicals help boost your mood and overall sense of well-being. This is just one of many reasons why sticking to a winter workout routine is good for your body and mind.
Health Benefits of Exercise
- Mood Boost As we already mentioned, exercise gives you a big, natural mood boost. Endorphins and other brain chemicals not only make you feel good, they also help diminish your perception of pain.
- Less Stress Exercise is a great stress-reliever. In addition to the feel-good brain chemicals, exercise also provides distraction from worries, and repeated physical movements can often be meditative.
- More Energy Exercise boosts cardiovascular health and increases endurance. More endurance means daily tasks take less energy, and you’ll feel less tired throughout the day.
- Maintain Weight It’s not always easy to maintain a healthy weight during the winter, especially when you’re going to holiday gatherings with tables full of cookies, pies and other treats. If you make a plan to stick to your winter workouts, it can help to combat the weight gain that can come along with winter months.
- Stronger Immune System Germs seem to multiply during the winter, and exercise keeps your body healthy and able to fight off colds, flus and other illnesses.
How to Workout in Winter: Tips for Your Winter Workouts
There are a lot of reasons why it’s harder to keep exercising during the winter months. First of all, cold weather and snow can prevent you from working out outside. If you’re used to outdoor workouts, winter can really derail your routine. The weather may also make you less motivated to bundle up and go to the gym or indoor fitness class. Winter tends to be busy with holiday plans, parties and vacations, too. Overcome these obstacles and achieve your fitness goals with these winter workout tips!
1. Set Goals
Without goals, it can be hard to stay motivated. A goal (or several small goals) can help you stay focused. The most effective goals follow the S.M.A.R.T. formula, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. You could try to think of a big goal, like running a 5K or a half-marathon, and then make smaller goals to work on in the lead-up to the bigger goal.
Try to think outside the box when it comes to fitness goals, and don’t make losing weight your only goal. Set milestones that excite and motivate you, and share your goal with a friend or family member for extra accountability.
2. Find a Workout Partner
Many physicians and fitness experts agree that having a support system is the key to long-term health and fitness success. A workout partner provides accountability, support, motivation, encouragement and sometimes a bit of healthy competition (if you want that). A workout partner doesn’t have to have the exact same goals as you, but it’s helpful if they’re similarly motivated.
3. Try New Forms of Indoor Exercise
Developing and maintaining a winter workout habit might mean switching things up from your normal fitness routine and preferences, especially if you’re used to exercising outdoors. If you like running outside but you hate running on treadmills, don’t go to the gym and hop on a treadmill. Try another form of cardio exercise, like swimming, kickboxing or cycling. Or, add in different forms of exercise to switch it up, such asCrossFit, yoga, Zumba or weight training. If you’re not used to indoor exercise, don’t be afraid to try several types of exercise to find something you enjoy and keep your workouts interesting.
4. Choose Active Winter Activities
If exercising outside is a priority for you, try incorporating winter sports and activities into your routine. Skiing, snowboarding and ice skating require more equipment and may rely on nearby recreational parks and facilities, so doing these activities may require a bit more planning ahead. You might not be able to go skiing every weekend, but planning a few trips during the winter can give you something fun to look forward to while you wait for things to thaw out for spring.
How to Workout in Winter: Outdoor Winter Workouts
Is it safe to exercise outside during winter?
Outdoor winter workouts can be safe, but it’s important to prepare properly for the elements. Most people prefer to move their workouts indoors when the temperatures drop, but if the cold doesn’t bother you, just be sure to take extra measures to ensure your workouts are safe, healthy and effective.
- Use Proper Lighting When the sun rises after 7 a.m. and sets before 5 p.m., it’s likely that part of your outdoor winter workout will take place in the dark. Be sure to invest in some nighttime workout gear that is either reflective or illuminated - or both!
- Protect Your Skin Winter temperatures can quickly plummet to dangerous levels, so take precautions to prevent frostbite. Thermal pants or leggings, wool base layers, gloves, hats, headbands, ski masks and wind breakers are all good options to have available if you’re planning to exercise outdoors in the winter. Be sure to keep an eye on weather advisories because sometimes it might be dangerous to be outside no matter how much gear you’re wearing.
- But Don’t Overdress Running and other vigorous exercise increases your body temperature. If you are too bundled up during your run, you could actually overheat. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it’s about 20 degrees warmer than it actually is - your body will make up the difference.
- Use Shoes With Good Traction Obviously, ice and snow are slippery. If you want to exercise outside when there is snow on the ground, you need to make sure your shoes have enough traction to grip the ground and prevent falls. Shop for sneakers specifically designed for snow and ice.
- Stay Hydrated Winter workouts might not make you sweat like it’s a hot summer day, and you may not be very thirsty, but staying hydrated is essential for exercise no matter the time of year.
More Exercise Resources to Stay Active in Long Island!
Staying active is important for all seasons. This winter, think of ways to make time for your workouts, and focus on building healthy habits. Winter is a great time to try a fun seasonal sport or indoor fitness class. Bring a friend along with you so you can encourage one another to stick with it! Check out more information about fitness and healthy living: