It’s February.    How are those New Year’s fitness resolutions going? If you are like most people, the motivation is starting to wane, especially when the weather is so cold.  Before you know it, that enthusiasm and excitement you had back in January is becoming as cold as the brisk winter air – or worse – it’s completely frozen!    Take heart, because according to the American Heart Association (AHA), there are actually some benefits to being active during the colder months, so THERE is some added motivation!   What are some of the benefits according to AHA?

  • No heat and humidity to deal with. Winter’s chill might even make you feel awake and invigorated.
  • You may be able to work out longer in cold weather—which means you can burn even more calories.
  • It’s a great way to take in the sunlight (in small doses). Not only can light improve many people’s moods, it also helps you get some vitamin D.
  • Exercise boosts your immunity during cold and flu season. Just a few minutes a day can help prevent simple bacterial and viral infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

There are some things you will want to be aware of when you get outdoors in the cooler weather.  The United States Office of Veterans Affairs offers these great tips for cold weather safety:

Dress in Layers

  • Start with a synthetic material, like polypropylene, against your skin. It will draw the sweat away from your body and dry quickly.
  • For the second layer, select wool or cotton to soak up moisture.
  • Choose the third layer for its ability to keep the cold air and rain out, something lightweight and waterproof.

Don’t lose your head

  • Wear a hat to avoid losing heat through your head.
  • Project your feet. Insulate them with warm socks and keep them dry.
  • Choose mittens over gloves because the fingers can warm each other.

Drink up – you can become dehydrated in the cold

  • Drink before you feel thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
  • Water is readily available, inexpensive, and exactly what your body needs.
  • Drink water before you go out and bring some with you.
  • If your lips are chapped, this means you need more water.

Don’t overdo it

  • Cold is a stress on the body. So is exercise.  Together they may be too much. Start slowly and don’t overdo it.

There are going to be days when there is just NOTHING that will motivate you to get outside during the cold weather.  There are ways to stay active indoors as well.

  • Get in front of your TV and do some of your favorite fitness DVDs or subscribe to one that you can retrieve from your Smart TV.  Livestrong suggests a few here.
  • Take a walk at the mall or at your community center, church, or school that has an indoor track available to the public.
  • Climb those stairs – again, and again, and again!  According to My Fitness Pal, a 150- pound person can expect to burn 537 per hour climbing stairs.  Even a half hour of stair climbing while blasting some music for motivation will burn over 250 calories.
  • Create a mini-gym or visit your gym, community center for other work out facility and take a new class or use the indoor equipment.
  • Go somewhere that has an indoor swimming pool such as your local community center or YMCA.
  • Invest in some home exercise equipment and create your own mini-gym.
  • Looking for even MORE things that you can do indoors? Brigham and Young Women’s Hospital published an article “Five Fresh Forms of Indoor Fitness” that give even MORE ideas of things to do indoors if you are in a rut, including racquetball, spinning, kickboxing, and more.

Whatever you do, just keep moving.   Don’t let the cold weather stop the great progress you could be making by sticking with your fitness goals.  Spring is RIGHT around the corner and you’ll be glad that you stuck with it!  Check out the American Heart Association’s Cold Weather Fitness Guide” that offers specific recommendations on activity levels as well as other facts and figures about fitness AND some great winter-friendly recipes.    Keep on moving – your body will thank you for it!

Sources:
American Heart Association, www.heart.org.  Accessed February 12, 2017.
United States Office of Veterans Affairs, http://www.move.va.gov/.  Accessed February 12, 2017.
Livestrong, www.livestrong.org.  Accessed February 12, 2017.
My Fitness Pal, www.myfitnesspal.com.  Accessed February 12, 2017.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, www.brighamandwomens.org.  Accessed February 12, 2017.
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