How to Beat the Winter Exercising Blues

Janelle Baldwin
man working out

Something seems to kick in once the cold of winter comes and the snow flies which causes people to become bear like and want to hibernate, adding another layer of fat to the 6 they already have just in case a winter storm locks them indoors without any food…Does that sound like you?  Well, you are not alone.  Here are some tips on not gaining that weight and keeping your self active during the long Wisconsin winter time!

Change up your Cardiovascular exercise

The cold weather often makes typical outdoor exercise impossible. Try doing one of the great winter exercises we are lucky to have!  Here are a few you should try… Downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, sledding – the real work comes from walking up that hill and dragging the sled! Winter hiking, hockey and ice skating, and even snowball fights!!!  My point is spice it up!  Don’t look at winter as the time to sit indoors, see it as a new blanket of exercises you cannot do in the summer opening up!!  When doing cardio, the key is getting your heart rate into your target heart rate zone typically 65%-80% of your maximum heart rate. As long as you accomplish that, you can do anything you want. So don’t look at the treadmill and walk as the only exercise available in the winter. Add variety from the suggestions above and a new intensity and get your workout done in a fresh fun new way!!

You can also spice up indoor workouts with these tips…

Break up your workout. Separate your workout into 5-minute segments, each with a different focus--speed, incline, or resistance level. By changing your workout every five minutes, you get variety and, because you're focusing on 5 minutes at a time, the workout will be more challenging and refocus your mind 5 minutes at a time.

Do several pieces of cardio in one workout. Instead of getting on the same machine for your 30-60 minutes, pick 3 different machines and workout on each one for 10-20 minutes.  You can then do weights in between the segments of cardio, or do them all in a row like a mini indoor duathlon.  You can do your own mini version of run, bike, run!

Be creative. Use unconventional methods to in crease your heart rate and maintain it. Look for a flight of stairs to run up and down, or use the aerobic step and do a variety of “steps”.  Jump rope or on a mini trampoline, again using a variety of jumps – running in place, marching with high knees, doing the twist etc. You can also do stations of cardio like 5 minutes of mini trampoline, 1 minute of jumping jacks, 1 minute of push-ups, 1 minute of squats, then do laps of walking lunges…you can be as creative as you want and use your body weight to strengthen you heart as well as the prime movers in your body.

Try something new. We all have our favorite machines--the machines we gravitate to every time we go to the gym. Winter is a great time to experiment with something completely different. I challenge you to try a piece of equipment you've never used before--the Nustep, medicine balls, the physioball, or weighted bars ...anything new and different.

Try group fitness. Even if you're not into group fitness classes, giving one a try can give you new enthusiasm for your workouts. Look up a schedule online… (under Employee Resources, to the left the ZONE, classes are now posted online)  You pick up energy when you workout in a group setting--take advantage of it. You will also get the accountability of others in the same place you are, and get the hands on instruction you need to learn something new and practice good technique over and over.

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