The arrival of colder weather often brings forth the “winter blues.” You might feel extra tired, out of sorts, and frankly moving off the couch is enough exercise for the day. What we fail to remember is that exercise provides an effective natural boost to both mood and health. The unfortunate irony is that we find it most difficult to exercise during the winter when we need it most. Instead of blaming our lack of time or winter’s early darkness, prep yourself with strategies to fit in a winter workout. You might just find that you don’t have to leave the house to get your blood flowing!
Simple Outdoor Exercises
Exercising outdoors when the temperatures fall below freezing can be exhilarating. Learning a new sport like ice skating, snowshoeing or skiing is a great way to increase your physical activity in the winter. If you walk or run, you will love the ability to move across snow and ice that these sports provide. If the elliptical or other cardio machines are your go-to at the gym, snowshoeing and skiing give you the chance to put your gym hours of exercise into a real-world activity.
Winter activities do not need to be complicated. Staying active during the winter can be as simple as sledding, building, a snowman, or going for a walk. Fresh snow? Bundle up, get out your shovel, and get moving. Even building a snowman with your kids will get your heart rate up!
Staying Warm and Working Out Inside
If you are a runner in the summer, it might do your body good to try an easy indoor exercise like yoga or pilates. If a fitness club is accessible to you, try the stationary bikes, treadmills, rowing machines as well as strength training equipment. It’s also easy to find ways to get in a good workout without a club membership or specialized equipment. Take the stairs at work. Each set of stairs you go up and down will strengthen your legs and core, as well as give your heart and lungs a good workout. Also, malls are a great place to meet friends for a brisk half-hour walk. Some malls even offer after-hours access for walking groups. Snowed in? Workout DVD’s are the next best thing to a personal training session at home! Order a few to have on hand for those days when you don’t feel like leaving home for a workout.
Food and Mood
Ok. You’ve battled the cold, tried out a new winter workout, and are ready to refuel yourself with food. Well my friends, look no further than a comforting bowl of soup. Soup is a go-to meal in the winter. It’s hearty, warm, and filling. And we’re all familiar with the power of comfort foods. Soups are easy to make and usually an inexpensive way to add more vegetables to your diet. Skip the cream, and puree your soups instead! This will give the soup a creamy texture without the added fat. I’ve found the best vegetables to puree in soups are carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and mushrooms. Simply knowing you are taking care of yourself can boost your mood. Plus, when you eat a healthy diet, your body reaps the benefits.
Luckily there are ways to boost your mood and health during the long winter months. Don’t dread the fresh snow. Instead, embrace the cold by participating in many sports and indoor activities the whole family can enjoy. Plus, a few winter activities will make the transition into your usual spring fitness regimen easier.