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How to Stay Fit in Winter

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Winter is coming, and this year it might be a little tough mentally for many people. We’re still dealing with the coronavirus, not just in the U.S. but around the world. Some countries are re-entering periods of lockdown, although not nationally-mandated this time around. 

We’ll be grappling with the effects of the flu and coronavirus simultaneously, and what that means is that you need to do your best to stay healthy and boost your immune system, while social distancing. 

A big part of staying healthy means getting regular exercise. If you’re nervous about going to the gym and you’re worried it will be too cold to bike, run or walk outside this winter, what should you do?

First, commit to staying fit no matter the weather. We’re learning so much about coronavirus and the fact that the outcomes can be more severe in overweight people, meaning it’s more important than possibly ever to maintain a healthy weight. 

The following are ways to stay on track with your fitness when the weather turns cold, particularly if you don’t want to go to the gym or your gym isn’t open right now. 

Exercising Safely Outdoors

First, just because it’s going to get cold doesn’t mean you have to stop your outdoor exercise altogether. In some ways, it may even be safer. For example, there may be fewer people on the roadway which can make it safer for pedestrians. Thousands of people die each year as pedestrians and cyclists outside, so if you get a little bit of a quieter time to do your outdoor exercise, that’s always a good thing. 

First, if you want to keep exercising outside, be aware of not just the temperature but the wind chill. Wind chill extremes are one factor that can make outdoor exercise especially dangerous in winter. 

Be aware of the signs of hypothermia and frostbite so you can go back inside if you notice them. Early signs include a stinging feeling, loss of feeling, and numbness. 

Of course, you’ll want to dress in layers too, but in reality one of the big mistakes a lot of people make when exercising outdoors in cold weather is that they dress too warmly. 

When you’re exercising, you generate heat. That can make you feel warm, but then when your sweat evaporates it pulls heat from your body. 

If you dress in layers, you can remove them as you sweat, and then when you need to, you can put them back on. 

Ensure you’re always protecting your feet, hands, head, and ears when you exercise outdoors in cold weather. 

Hydration remains as important in cold weather as it is in warm and hot weather. 

Use a Fitness Subscription App

If you don’t want to exercise outside, you’re in luck. Fitness subscription apps are incredibly popular, and you can access some of the best fitness content from anywhere and at any time. 

For example, one popular option is the Peloton App. Most people know Peloton for their high-end exercise bikes, but their app brings you their quality instructors and programming whether or not you have the bike or one of their newer treadmills. 

Lately, Peloton has seemed to focus on equipment-free workouts more so than in the past, and they’ve also started gearing their bike and treadmill workouts toward non-Peloton branded devices too. 

Peloton offers live classes, or you can take them on demand, and each of their instructors brings their own unique personality to the classes, leading to a cult-like following. 

Peloton offers running and cycling workouts, but also weight training, yoga, stretching, meditation, and walking. 

Another option is called Apptiv, which is audio-only. You can use it for outdoor workouts or workouts on a treadmill, elliptical, or bike. 

There are around 2500 classes, and 30 are added each week on average. 

Apps and streaming workouts aren’t just geared toward cardio. 

You can also use them for weight training, for example. 

If you want weight training with minimal equipment required, consider Sworkit. Sworkit offers options for weight training that use bodyweight like squats and pushups, as well as workouts using simple weight training equipment like dumbbells. 

Other Tips for Staying Fit in Winter

The following are some other things to keep in mind when it comes to staying fit in winter

  • Set goals for yourself. It’s easy to get into the doldrums during the cold winter months, but if you set goals for yourself, it’ll help you stay on track when you might otherwise get deterred. 
  • Remind yourself that physical fitness is just as much about mental health as it is the health of your body. Mental health can take a hit during the winter, but staying fit can help you combat that. 
  • Consider taking advantage of the winter months by doing seasonally appropriate and creative activities. For example, maybe you go ice skating or snowshoeing. If you have kids in your family, they might have some ideas of things you can do together. 
  • Work out with someone else, whether it’s a friend, a spouse, or a family member. If you have a workout partner, you’re more likely to stay accountable. 
  • Create a schedule for yourself each week where you plan out your workouts. This will help you stick with it if you write it down in particular. 
  • It doesn’t have to be all or nothing when it comes to fitness. We can sometimes tell ourselves that if we can’t work out for an hour or work out seven days a week, it’s not worth it. That’s simply not true and even taking a few minutes to exercise can have big benefits. 

If you’re worried about how this winter might affect you, go ahead and start making plans to stay fit now.  It helps you feel a sense of control over what’s going on in your life when you might not otherwise feel that. It can also help you boost your immune system and feel your best mentally. 

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