Exercising in Winter Climates

For those who living in warm climates, keeping in shape comes naturally. Just go outside for a run, bike, hike or walk whenever you feel like it. Its a lot harder to keep in shape in winter climates where it goes below freezing for months. Typically, I find that I gain 15 lbs in winter, because I spend a lot of time sitting around trying to keep warm. Weight that I then have to loose again in summer. I’d like to stay fit in winter too. Here are some tips.

1) Don’t imagine that you will run or do physical exercise outside. You might have some romantic notions of wearing sweats and jogging in the snow, but when its <20 degs its really cold. This makes your muscles tense, and lungs chill.¬†It can be dangerous to breath freezing air deeply, as it makes you dizzy and can cause fainting. So keep it all indoors.

2) Start with light, indoor jogging. Don’t ¬†stretch first, as your cold muscles may sprain or tighten. Jog lightly for 30 mins to warm up your whole body. You don’t need any machines, just stand in front of TV, or watch a movie, and jog for 30-40 mins.

3) Now that your body is warm, you can get warmed up.. do stretches as you normally would. In the cold this is especially important before any weight training. Stretch your legs and back especially, as these get very stiff in winter.

4) If you want, after jogging and stretching, add any weight training. I usually include some crunches, push-ups, curls and bench presses.

5) Warm down by jogging again for 30 mins. Drink lots of water afterward.

6) After exercising, see if you can find some fruits and vegetables. In the winter, produce is much harder to find, but even some apples and a banana is better than potatoes and rice which are more often consumed in cold weather. Your body wants to gain weight in winter, so starchy foods are more common. You can fight it with a healthy diet, but it must include winter weather exercising.

Having access to a gym can help, but its not really necessary. I find going to the gym takes too long, as I have to drive from work, to the gym, in the freezing snow, and then exercise, then get into cold car again and drive home. I think its much easier to have a home routine in the winter, which avoids an extra trip in the snow.

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