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How to Work Out During Winter

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running in the winter

Winter Running

The holiday season sure can pack on the pounds, but often it isn’t just the decadent food and festivities that cause people to gain weight. Winter tends to dissuade even avid exercisers from their usual fitness routines. Freezing temperatures, snowy and icy paths, and short, dim days certainly are enough to keep most people huddled indoors, but if you are committed to staying fit through to spring, here’s what you can do to combat the elements during the harshest months of the year.

1. Do What It Takes to Stay Motivated

Fitness freaks know better than anyone how important self-motivation is in achieving any goal, which means they are usually willing to do anything to feel driven. While during the summer this may be the promise of a lovely landscapes or stunning sunsets, the winter has fewer inherent joys for workouts.

Instead, you may need to keep your spirits up with some much-desired tech or equipment. Purchasing a gadget or tool you’ve had your eye on is a joy rivaled only by the experience of using it for the first time, and to use a fitness toy, you have to work out. So, go ahead and splurge on that heart rate monitor or new weight belt you’ve been eyeing — you’ll need it.

2. Get the Right Outfit

While you might be performing the same routine as in the summer — jog, Pilates, jog, repeat — your winter workout requires a completely different set of paraphernalia. Everything from your sports bra to your running shoes won’t cut it during the colder months, so if you expect to continue training outside, you’ll need a completely different wardrobe of exercise attire. The precipitation of winter, including rain, snow, sleet, and ice, require winter exercise clothing to be protective as well as insulating, and shoes should have more traction and support than your usual running shoes to prevent against slipping and sliding. Here’s what to look for to keep your winter workouts warm:

  • Three layers of upper-body clothing. This may seem redundant and unnecessary, but every layer of winter clothing serves a purpose. Closest to your body, you should don a typical workout shirt made of polypropylene or some other sweat-wicking material to keep you dry while you exercise. Next, you should cover your body with an insulating layer. The material of this depends on your environment and preferences; some people might require a heavy wool or fleece jacket, while others might find a T-shirt can suffice. Third, and last, a waterproof windbreaker with a hood will protect you from any and all winter elements. In conjunction, these layers work to keep you warm and dry for the duration of your workout.
  • A tight, low cap. You lose quite a bit of body heat through your head, which means covering your scalp and ears will keep you warmer. Skull caps that fit tight are best, and you want to find one that will fully cover your ears as well.
  • Trail running shoes. Typical running shoes don’t have enough traction to combat snow and ice, but shoes designed for heavy use on gravely trails do. The thickest treads are the best for winter wear, and you should look for an inflexible sole to provide protection from ankle damage. Be sure to buy a size that will accommodate the bulkier socks you’ll wear for warmth.
Skiing in the winter months

Skiing

3. Substitute in Winter Activities

Running and swimming are perfectly acceptable when the sun is shining in spring and summer, and winter as well has a slew of enjoyable seasonal activities that will get your heart pumping and will burn calories. Ice and snow are obstacles that offer challenges to different muscles than one might typically use in warmer months, which means winter sport–specific training has more benefits than you might expect. If you are having trouble coming up with a winter activity that pushes your exercise button, consider this list:

  • Snowshoeing
  • Skiing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Hiking in the snow
  • Mountain biking on snow
  • Ice hockey
  • Ice skating
  • Ice climbing

Some of these activities require more training and experience than others, so before you embark on any winter sport do some research beforehand. However, if you’ve dabbled in the chosen winter activity before, see if you can both perfect your skill and benefit your body during the colder months.

4. Hit the Gym

If the weather becomes unbearably bad, you can always take comfort in the regular operation of your nearby gym. Though many enthusiasts prefer the freedom and flexibility of outdoor workouts and owned equipment, gyms can act as a last resort when the weather is much too inclement to warrant any other course of action. In truth, gyms aren’t a terrible alternative: They offer warmth, top-of-the-line equipment, and fellow fitness freaks who are just as devoted to exercise during these months as you.

 
 


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