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One of the great challenges faced by many of us who live in four-season climates is how to stay active and get enough healthy exercise once the temperatures start dropping. When it’s cold and snowy outside, few of us have the “Just Do It” mentality of Olympic marathoner Joan Benoit, as demonstrated in this famous Nike commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqXPw_6eYZw

Joan, bless her, takes one look out the door of her Maine cottage at 5:25 a.m., sees a raging snowstorm, and goes out for her morning run anyway. But no matter how important we know it is to remain active during the cold months so that eating doesn’t become our main winter exercise routine, most of us need a little inspiration. To help out, we have compiled a list of tips to help you get your winter exercise this season.

Ways to Stay Active Outdoors

  • Don’t let the cold weather keep you indoors. Bundle up, wear lots of layers, don’t forget your gloves and hat, stretch first, and then step out to enjoy the brisk air.
  • Remember your New Years’ Resolutions about exercise, and try to keep to them. Just a 10-15 minute walk every day before dinner can do wonders to keep you healthy and fit.
  • Buy yourself a pedometer and set a goal of walking 10,000 steps a day. If you’ve got a dog, his or her walks are opportunities to add to your daily total.
  • Go for walks in the snow, or just go outside and rake leaves or do other work in the yard.
  • If you’re fit (check with your doctor first), rather than lamenting that accumulation of snow, go out and shovel some of it. It’s one of the best forms of exercise you can get.
  • If you’re normally athletic and in good shape, consider learning a new winter sport such as skiing or snowboarding.
  • If you’re more sedentary, consider lower-impact sports such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, tobogganing, or skating.
  • Plan your social activities around your exercise plan, and allow your friends and family to get in on the fun – and the exercise – too.

Ways to Stay Active Indoors

  • Remember the benefits of exercising at home – consider buying a treadmill or exercise bicycle and some hand weights or stretch bands and exercise in front of your TV instead of being a couch potato.
  • If you’re not really an exercise-at-home kind of person, consider joining a gym. They often have special membership prices at this time of year, and most of them also offer courses in things like yoga or martial arts or aerobics.
  • At work or on the way there, take the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator.
  • Turn your housework into an exercise program, staying active by dancing your way through the vacuuming, mopping, and window washing. It’s more exercise than you think, and it has the extra benefit of keeping your house clean.
  • If it’s really too cold to be outside, go to the mall and do some “mall-walking,” getting your exercise and your shopping taken care of at the same time.

Remember—every season offers its own unique opportunities to get healthy and stay fit. During the winter months, all it takes is a little creativity and a willingness to adapt. The change of pace can do you good!


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