We know: It’s cold out. It’s icy. It’s grey. Many of us, especially those of us who like to run or practice outdoor sports, find it challenging to get outside to get in a decent workout. In fact, some of us may even be suffering from Seasonal Affect Disorder (if that’s you, check out our article on beating back the winter blues).
Staying active may be a challenge in the winter months, but that’s no excuse for not getting in a minimum amount of exercise each day. There’s little dispute in the medical community that even some exercise is better than none at all, and there’s no reason why we have to let winter slow us down or undo the hard work we’ve done in the warmer months.
Here are a few key exercises we recommend for staying fit, staying active, and staying healthy when we can’t or don’t want to go outside.
First, we recommend focusing about half your time on cardio. Giving the heart a good workout, even in short bursts, can help us improve stamina, keep our heart rates low, and burn a few extra calories here and there.
Jump rope: It might be surprising out even the fittest among us have challenges jumping rope for a sustained period of time. This is a great cardio workout that you can slowly build on. Start with one minute intervals, interspersed with 30-60 rests. Not only does it work our heart, but it also work our calves!
Dancing: This is probably the most fun exercise you can get indoors! Don’t worry about form or technique as much as getting the body moving. Crank up the tunes and dance like no one’s watching (even if your kids are giving you funny looks)!
Jumping Jacks: Another great cardio exercise, you can do this while watching TV, during commercial breaks, or just if you have a few minutes to spare between tasks.
Oftentimes, when we do strength training, it’s at a gym. If a gym’s not accessible, particularly because of weather conditions, there are still plenty of options and creative ideas for the average home iron pumper.
Lift kids: For those of us with young children (ideally under 50 pounds), we can involve them with our own healthy workout habits by using them as weights! Just check out what this one dad did to incorporate playtime with workout time with his children. Not only will does this create an opportunity to spend more quality time with kids, but it also teaches them the value of staying in shape!
Water bottle weights: And for those of us who don’t have kids (or don’t want to use them as weights), water bottles make pretty good substitutes for weights. But instead of filling them with water, filling them with sand or other heavier substance can be great for working on arms (curls), shoulders (shoulder lifts), and even back strength (squats). If a regular water bottle is too light, try a gallon milk carton, which has its own built-in handle.
Resistance Exercises: This type of exercise is both the easiest and the most difficult to do. They’re easy because they don’t require a lot of movement. But they’re hard because, well, maintaining the same position for an extended period of time is challenging. The most common you may have heard of is plank, where you lay flat on your stomach, place your forearms flat on the ground in front of you, press down with your toes and up with your belly to make your body completely straight. Start by holding that position for about 10-15 seconds, and then add on time when it gets too easy. If you want more challenges, try doing some yoga postures, but be sure to consult with an expert if you’ve never done yoga before.
Need more ideas for staying fit over the winter months? Schedule an appointment with Shakthi. Our board certified medical team can develop a customized program to help you look, perform, and feel your best. Also, check out our book, Finding Balance, which offers many other insights into combating stress and illness to live a longer, healthier life.