Finding ways to work out in the winter

Workouts don’t need to stop when it gets chilly.

When the weather gets cold, getting a workout in can become increasingly challenging, and numerous Americans experience weight gain during the winter months. Why?

We eat more: people tend to increase consumption of food (especially around the holidays, but also throughout the rest of winter). Generally, we are less physically active. In a “calories in/calories out” process, where calories taken in are higher than calories burned, there’s potential for weight gain. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can have significant effects on mood and motivation, both of which can hinder efforts to be physically active. There just are not as many options to be active in the cold weather. If your community has a gym, this can be a great way to beat the winter blues and be active.

Many communities, however, do not have this type of resource, or it may not be the preference of everyone. In this case, there are several outdoor activities that can get that heart rate up and get you sweating. Many activities, such as snowshoeing, ice skating, sledding, shoveling or building a snowman can be done for free or very inexpensively with equipment rental.

If the great outdoors is not your thing, never fear! There are plenty of ways to be active inside as well! Below is a workout split you can follow to maintain muscular strength during the winter. Sprinkle in a few walks/hikes, and you have yourself an active winter!

The exercises listed here should be performed in a Tabata format. There are different variations of this, but for this workout, we will have 20 seconds ‘on’ (working hard to keep your heart rate up), and 10 seconds ‘off’ (a quick rest/recovery period). Try to get through all four exercises four times. Doing this three times per week will provide a great calorie burn and strength increase. An adequate warm-up (stretching and some cardio to increase your heart rate, about five minutes) and cool-down (about two minutes) should also be included. Remember, it is recommended that you consult your physician before beginning an exercise program. Also, if it’s been a while since you’ve exercised, try working up to the goal of completing the whole Tabata, modifying as needed to fit your personal fitness level. Upon first glance, this workout seems easy. If performed correctly, however, you will have an amazing workout in just 15 minutes of time!

Tabata workout (eight minutes total):
  • Pushups
  • High Knees
  • Squats
  • Burpees

Winter does not have to be a time where we lose sight of our fitness goals. While there are more barriers, and the weather can be frigid, fitness can come in many different ways, both indoors and outdoors! Don’t let the cold weather hinder your progress! Stay dedicated to your routine and smash those fitness goals! Michigan State University Extension supports and encourages healthy lifestyle choices, such as physical activity. Find out more on the Michigan State University Extension website!

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