The warm weather and blue skies of summer are gone, replaced by winter's shorter days, frequent clouds, cold temps, and snowy conditions. But a little cold shouldn't stop you from being active. Exercise is essential for both physical and mental health -- particularly when sunshine gets hard to come by. You don't need to dive headfirst into risky winter sports that require huge upfront investments in gear and equipment, either. Let's look at some approachable cold-weather exercise options you can use to maintain an active winter.
Feeling like you need the fresh air despite the chilly temps? Here are a few ways you can still stay fit outdoors, with a little extra preparation to combat the cold.
- Walking or Jogging: There's nothing like a brisk walk or jog in the winter breeze. Best of all, the soft snow will make your muscles work harder and use more oxygen, theoretically helping you expend more energy and burn more calories. Be wary of ice, however, as it's easy to slip on and can be hard on the joints.
- Hiking: If you live in an area that doesn't get a lot of snow, there's no reason you can't hit the trails in the colder months. A few benefits of hiking include limiting hypertension, mitigating the effects of Type II diabetes, reversing osteoporosis, aiding weight loss, and reducing anxiety. Best of all, all you need is a good pair of shoes!
- Snowshoeing: Snowshoeing has been shown to be such a good exercise that only 30 minutes on a flat, variable surface may provide sufficient intensity to increase endurance and positively alter body composition.
On the coldest days of the year, even the bravest exercisers will want to stay inside. Here are a few great indoor alternatives to try out.
- Swimming: The benefits are swimming are endless -- it's low-impact on the joints, it improves cardiovascular endurance, and the consistent energy expenditure may help in weight control. Swimming has been shown to improve issues with anger, confusion, tension, and depression.
- Yoga: Yoga has similar effects to swimming to lessen in terms of alleviating emotional and mental health symptoms. And the benefits of yoga don't stop there: It can also improve balance and reduce fall risk. So don't be shy to doff those winter jackets and don some yoga pants.
- Indoor Rock Climbing: Want to be adventurous without the high risks? Consider indoor rock climbing. It's a fun, safe activity, but it can improve muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness.
Whether you want to embrace the chill or escape the blistering cold, you can maintain an active winter in fun, safe, and cost-effective ways. With the right preparation and workout gear -- be it a parka, hiking boots, or a pair of swim trunks -- you should have no trouble staying active, healthy, and safe this season.