Here is the hard truth: Fitness is like a job promotion.
Everyone wants it. Nobody is oblivious to its benefits. The question is whether or not people are willing to put in the work consistently.
Consistency is the keyword here, ladies and gents. This may shock you, but getting to a respectable level of fitness is actually the easy part.
The hard, albeit necessary, part is how to maintain the fitness level you’ve achieved. This is what separates the "New Year, New Me" crowd from the people who never lose sight of what it means to be fit and healthy.
Seasons change but the necessity to make time for a workout should not. Exercise is a must for the body — whether in the summer, spring, or fall.
Exercise is especially good for you during the winter months — even more than your gingerbread cookies, eggnog, or hot chocolate.
Who knows? You might even like working out during the colder months after reading this.
Why Exercise During the Winter?
Think of the body as being akin to a car. A car’s function, just like the body, is predicated on the synchronous movement of several interconnected parts. Aside from the gears and motors, the efficient circulation of fluids in the car contributes to its ability to start.
But what if you were to leave the car outside during the winter for an extended period of time? Do you think the car would start right away? Probably not.
The body reacts in nearly the same way, especially to the cold. Sure, your bones, joints, and blood may not freeze. But, all the same, something happens to your body during long periods of inactivity in the cold season.
Blood vessels carry nutrient-blood to virtually every single part of the body. Blood is essential to the health and function of the major tissues in your body like muscles, bones, and the connective tissues (joints). The flow of blood to these tissues can only occur when blood vessels are dilated. When it gets cold, the opposite happens to the blood vessels — they constrict or become narrow.
This is what you are trying to avoid. When not enough blood goes to your muscles and tissues, you can experience a laundry list of movement issues. Cramps will occur more often, and you may experience more pain in your joints.
All of these issues can put you on the sidelines even after the winter. Hence, to keep yourself limber, strong, and agile you need to exercise in the winter.
Also, being sedentary at a time when you’re putting in more calories is just awful for your joints and your heart health. In this regard, exercise can help you in two ways:
● By temporarily creating the metabolic environment to offset your nutritional shenanigans
● By curbing your appetite in foods that aren't good for you. In short, staying active in the winter can keep you reasonably fit, lean, and sane.
How To Stay Active in Cold Weather
The keyword here is "stay". Reading this means that you are looking for ways how to stay as consistent with your exercise routine as you were before the winter.
To help you out, here are some tips to stay mobile when the temperature drops to zero:
Place Your Alarm Clock Far From Your Bed
We have all been guilty of this at some point. We set the alarm at a Jocko Willink-esque time like 4:32 a.m. to do a set of burpees and (because you have your own suspension trainer) inverted rows.
The next morning, the alarm goes off.
Do we train? Or do we give in to the lack of energy that the cold weather and delayed daylight hours bring about?
Of all the winter fitness tips you will read, few will be as important as this:
Getting yourself out of bed is always the initial step.
Indeed, it’s a no-brainer. But, then again, any day of the winter will not do the athlete in you favors. The best thing to do is to set your alarm clock as far away from your bed as possible. This way, you would have to prop yourself up and walk to switch off the alarm.
It is simple enough to be performed daily. Also, the chances of you going back under your covers for a snuggle will significantly decrease.
Invest in Home Exercise Equipment
You may not always have access to a gym in the winter. For this reason, you might need some equipment at home.
Now, are we advising you to turn your house into something that resembles the Olympic training center?
Of course not! Who has the time, space, and resources for that?!
If the COVID-19 lockdowns have taught us anything, it is that less can be more. And, when it comes to equipment, you just need the basics.
You can get yourself a pair of kettlebells for training your hip hinge and doing some squats.
Unity's suspension trainer can adapt to any bodyweight form of exercise movement you can think of.
Never Underestimate the Power of Bodyweight Training
If staying fit can only be achieved with heavy weights and barbells, why are gymnasts so jacked?
Switching to bodyweight training can significantly expand your winter workout options. On top of that, you can achieve a respectable amount of strength, flexibility, and muscle mass, even with
just using your body as resistance.
Also, bodyweight training has an advantage when it comes to training for conditioning. Since a lot of the movements can be done for high repetitions, a single workout can elevate both your heart rate and internal body temperature.
Let your creativity dictate your session. Bodyweight training has a nebulous set of options for
anaerobic and aerobic exercise.
Take Advantage of NEAT
NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. It is the heat generated by your body from
activities that do not count as exercise or training.
Because of this, maintaining your metabolic health does not always have to come from training.
Every kind of physical activity indoors or outdoors requires energy. So, for that extra "burn," you can perform any fun activity so long as it requires you to move.
Do chores like shoveling snow count? You bet!
Mall walking and climbing the stairs? Definitely. Consider them the light low-impact cardio parts of your physical activity program!
Do you need other physical activity recommendations? Here is a list:
● Playing in the snow
● Ice skating
● Winter sports like cross-country skiing
● Swimming in the indoor pool of your community center
See Your Doctor
How well you can train depends significantly on your current health status. Before going into any
exercise program, it is always a great idea to check with your physician.
Depending on your medical history, the number of times you exercise per week should follow your doctor’s recommendations.
If you or someone you know plans to exercise after a stroke, the colder months may be a bad time. Nonetheless, a physician may be able to come up with some ideas for indoor exercise.
Whether you are training indoors or outdoors, regular exercise gets more manageable with the
right exercise clothes. Indoors, you can get away with a single layer of clothing.
If you happen to be on an outdoor exercise program, protect yourself from the elements with winter clothes you can move freely in. The cold temperatures of even a mild winter day can
lead to hypothermia. Worse yet, frostbite is a possibility in very cold temperatures.
The point is to train and come back in one piece— literally. To do this, you must keep your body temperature up.
Conclusion: Lose the Excuses, Stay Consistent!
The key to staying alive longer, looking good, and being a functional human being is fitness. Fitness goes by many definitions. Gather all of these definitions and look for similarities. You will end up with a definition that emphasizes the ability to perform physical tasks without feeling pain, dropping dead, or coming close to either.
Is exercise during the winter necessary?
Many people ask this question rhetorically. For many people, cold weather means waking up to the alarm only to switch it off and cuddle up in the sheets again.
Few will dispute the fact that doing consistent exercise is hard enough during warm weather. When the weather forecast presents temperatures in the single digits or negatives, physical activity becomes even less appealing.
Nevertheless, a drop in the temperature should not deter you from your exercise routine.