I’m a summer person. I love the beach, the water park, and enjoying time with friends on the patio of a nice restaurant. The same is true of fitness. There’s nothing better than a long run in the punishing July heat making me sweat. Plus, summer just affords so many opportunities to stay active, even if it’s just a round of golf or a quick game of tennis.
If you want to stay fit or get in shape, summer, with its abundant daylight and warm weather, also makes exercise easier. If you’re in a climate where it gets cold and snowy, you probably know that your options are limited. Back when I lived in the snow belt of Ohio, running on sidewalks, even if they had been cleared, would’ve been treacherous. And, the running paths were snow covered from December to March.
A lot of people have a hard time staying fit and thin in the winter due to the cold weather, early darkness, and snow. But, winter fitness success is not only possible, but can actually be fun. Here are a few winter fitness tips to help you make the most of winter and be ready for the beach in the summer.
Join A Gym
This falls under Captain Obvious, I know. But, gyms are great during the winter. Even if there’s swirling snow and it’s freezing cold outside, you can be inside doing your favorite activity (or a new one). And, the advantage is that you are doing it with other people. If you can find a new workout buddy, a study shows that it will help you exercise more.
In addition, gyms often have a variety of machines, including cardio and strength training. This may help you tone and trim areas that you’ve previously neglected. So, if you are open to new activities, going to a gym could help you improve your fitness levels (like by taking up lifting).
Of course, gyms cost money, unlike the running you do for free on the back roads or the pickup game of basketball with your friends. If you only intend to use the gym for a few months, make sure it’s easy to break your contract or just choose a place that goes month to month. That way, you only use it when you’re interested in going.
Also, make sure to choose the right gym. I’ve outlined tips to choose the perfect gym that should help you find a place that is right for you.
Take The Outdoors Indoors
There are a lot of fun summer activities that can be done indoors during the winter. Basketball, volleyball, swimming, biking, and running are a few examples. Lots of places have indoor sports leagues for adults that will help you burn calories and stay sharp for the outdoor versions once the seasons change.
There are also machines that can mimic the outdoor exercises in your gym. A treadmill and exercise bike are two examples. While these winter fitness activities might not be as interesting as their outdoor, summer equivalents, you can still do them if you enjoy them. This also allows you to stay sharp for when summer rolls around.
Try A New Outdoor Activity
Just because the temperature goes down and the days are shorter doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise outdoors during the winter. Lots of people know this winter fitness tip already and do outdoor fitness activities throughout season.
Skiing (both cross country and downhill) is a fun exercise that can be done in the winter months. There’s also winter golf and snow shoeing. Be creative. Something like ice skating can be fun and a great workout. Chopping wood counts, as well.
Even an exercise like running or hiking can be done outdoors so long as the person has the right gear. Speaking of, when doing any winter fitness activity outdoors, make sure to dress for the weather.
When I lived in the snow belt, I loved cross country skiing. It added a new dimension to my workouts and helped me build a lot more muscle. Now, I still try to run outdoors even in the winter. It’s cool seeing my typical running area in a different seasons, even if I have to bundle up. I recently ran areas around my neighborhood with Christmas lights turned on! It was a cool running experience that was uniquely enjoyable.
Workout In Your Home
I used to hate home based workouts. For me there was nothing worse than being in my own house doing a boring DVD. I couldn’t get motivated. But, I’ve since learned my lesson. I started doing Beachbody’s Insanity (we offer an Insanity review) and loved it. Not only was it challenging, but it was perfect for those dark and cold nights after work when I didn’t feel like driving to the gym or bundling up.
You don’t have to put on a DVD. There are many home based fitness products like elliptical machines, weight lifting units, and treadmills. However, these can be kind of expensive if you’re only going to use them for the winter months. But, if you plan on using them for multiple winters, they be worth the investment.
When working out inside, there are ways to make it fun and enjoyable. One way is to play music, which has even been shown in various studies to help your workouts. I typically turn down the volume on the DVD and use my speakers or headphones to pump music through. Listening to my own playlist is far more energizing than the background stuff on the DVDs.
Another way is to workout with a partner. If you have a friend or family member who also wants to get fit during winter, meet at one of your homes and do a workout together. That way you can push each other and have someone else to go through it with you.
This might be the most important winter fitness tip of all. Winter is the perfect season for excuses. It’s cold, dark, snowy, and depressing. When you’re leaving work in the dark and it’s 10 degrees Fahrenheit outside, it’s too easy to sit on the couch, watch hours of TV, and gorge on snacks.
But, remember that exercise and activity will always help you feel better, not only giving you energy and inspiring you, but helping you stay healthy and fit during the cold months. While working out is never easy, it’s always rewarding.
So, don’t let winter keep you from achieving your fitness goals. Keep up your activity level and try new things. You’ll feel better in the present and have the body and fitness levels you’ve dreamed of when summer rolls around!