Brrrrr. That’s all I have to say about the weather lately. And I know I shouldn’t be complaining. I’m living in the Midwest by choice. And I’ve been a Chicago girl all my life…it’s not like the brutal, negative thirty temps and wind chill are surprising.
But no matter how long you’ve endured the bone-chilling cold, it still throws off your game. I mean, who wants to workout when you can snuggle up in some blankets and drink apple cider?
I’m the first to admit that as the chilly days come along, I find myself hibernating bear-style more and more, my work papers on the couch next to me, a hot bowl of soup on my lap.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some rest and relaxation during the winter months, but we have to stay productive. So here’s how to stay fit even when it’s cold as h-e-double-hockey-sticks outside.
Pull out that swimsuit.
Wait…what? No, I’m serious. People underestimate the power of a good pool workout. Dig out your suit (one-piece or bikini, though this all depends on your gym, who’s there, and if you’re trying to impress someone or just get your sh*t done and get out).
But, in all seriousness, a pool workout is awesome for your body. Swimming is easy on the joints, so even if you’re someone who struggles with exercise, someone with chronic pain that acts up in the cold, someone rehabbing from an injury, or just someone who’s totally unathletic, the pool is the perfect place to be.
Swimming laps is excellent cardio. Even treading water is a good workout. And the best part? You don’t feel like your sweating or working hard.
The traditional treadmill
So many people are anti-treadmill. But this is because they’re convinced that it’s bad for the knees. One of the best ways to use the treadmill is to increase the incline slightly. This takes the pressure off the joints and allows you to have a more realistic training session.
*Tip: Switch the speed and incline as you go. Shift from a walk to run, to sprint for thirty seconds, back to fast walk, jog, etc.
By changing the speeds you give yourself an interval workout which is the best thing for your heart, for productive exercise, and for fat-burning!
Try the track.
Treadmills freak you out? You aren’t alone. Sometimes that running machine can look intimidating. So if you’re one of those people who just isn’t ready for all that, run on an indoor track. These are usually found in the gym, or above the main gym in workout centers and as long as you follow the posted directions for which way you should run on given days and what side of the track is for running vs. walking, you can start going!
The nice thing about tracks that you set your own pace. Plus, it’s flat, so for people who enjoy running on pavement or having steady ground beneath their feet—this is right up your alley.
Running the track can get monotonous, though, so come prepared with ways to spice up your run. Something I do is run-walk. Every long portion of the track I run, and every short corner I walk. This helps with interval training and also makes things interesting.
You can also run to your music—sprint every chorus, walk every verse, or something like that.
Try some yoga.
Yoga is another perfect example of exercise that’s overlooked. Despite your preconceived notions about yoga pants and yogi masters, give it a chance. The workout is not only focused on relaxation and connection between the body and mind, it also encourages stretching and flexibility which is one of the best things for your muscles.
Don’t let yoga fool you, though. The workouts are mind-opening, difficult, and will make you super sore! There are also levels and different types of yoga, for example hot yoga, where you work out in a heated room—talk about sweat! Seriously, give yoga a chance. It’s different, challenging, and fun.
You may be someone who lifts regularly. You may not. Wherever you lie on the lifting spectrum, don’t fret. You can always get started, get back into it, or challenge yourself.
Newbie? Talk to someone at your local gym and get a tour of how to use the lifting equipment. No, this isn’t lame. People ask all the time and it’s much better to actually know what you’re doing then attempt and look like a complete idiot.
Been a while? Find buddies who are interested and lift with them. Sometimes having friend motivation can pull us out of a slump. Plus, it’s something new, so it will get you excited about lifting again.
Veteran? Join a cross-fit group and push yourself to try new lifts. Talk to someone at your gym about lifting opportunities—maybe a trainer to show you some complicated lifts or spot you on some higher weights—even team up with someone you know and record your lifts. This will challenge you to push yourself, your partner, and give you both some serious accountability with the recorded info.
Don’t even leave your room.
Sometimes the weather gets us in that I-don’t-want-to-leave-the-house mood. And sometimes we get snowed in and legitimately don’t have options. For both of these excuses, don’t fear! There are plenty of ways you can say fit without leaving the house, or even your room.
Buy a cheap set of dumbbells. You can get these so many places, from Craigslist to Goodwill, to probably even the local thrift store. No matter how long you’ve been lifting, dumbbells can always be a good workout.
Use the good ole’ body weight: Push-ups, sit ups, wall sits, dips, squats—these are just a few examples of workouts you can do without even changing into workout clothes, let alone leaving the four walls of your bedroom.
Heavy objects as weights: Have a few textbooks? Put them on your lap and do some hip thrusts with extra weight. Hold them in front of your chest and work on deep squats. Hold them straight out in front of you for as long as you can. Do butterfly lifts, with your arms extended out straight from your sides and lift. Even do bicep curls!
In-home cardio: Have stairs? Run up and down them and time yourself. Small living space? Grab a jump rope (or a make-shift one) and do intervals of sit-ups and jump rope at full speed. Do high knees. Butt kicks. Then follow with lunges and squats.
Winter can be the time for laziness, I get it. Sometimes the holidays get the best of us. But no excuses! You don’t have to be a stuffed turkey by the end of December. There are plenty of ways to get your butt moving at the gym or even in the comfort of your home, pj’s included.
Photo Credit: MayKool, Fuel Running, UND, BuzzFeed, 123rf, & Slay My Boredom. Featured: Your Happy Place.