Indoor fitness in the winter

Being active outdoors can be challenging for some in cold weather.

 According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular physical activity helps improve your overall health and fitness, and reduces your risk for many chronic diseases. Not into really cold weather? There are many ways to be active inside your own home and at other sites. Turn up the music and dance around the house. You can try some new or crazy twists with your family and turn up the fun. Dancing around the house either alone or with others can be enjoyed almost anytime. Use your stairs to go up and down several times each day, and work in some other movements between flights of steps. Make a game of it with your kids – just remember to keep it safe, limit the number of people on the steps at one time and insist that everyone do stair stepping with shoes on.

Notice how much time you spend sitting in a chair, and try to get up frequently to add motion into your day. When you are watching TV, get up each time the commercials come on to move around the house, and also move around when you are talking on the phone. Find the ways to be active indoors that work for you, and make a commitment to yourself to do them regularly. Put stars or other stickers on a calendar when you are active, and you’ll be more motivated and less likely to forget to do them because the stars remind you of the activity. The stickers will allow you and others to see your progress and notice when you are being less active. Find other small rewards for milestones in your activities, such as going to a movie or playing a game once you have 10 stars on the calendar.

Find other indoor activities elsewhere, such as bowling, volleyball teams, and swimming at school or community pools. Often schools have enrichment programs that include these and yoga or Pilates, and other choices for very little cost. For some people a gym membership can be an incentive because they are paying each month, and they like to get to know other members. You may also have gymnasiums or pools at community sites for free or low cost use. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has many ideas to help inspire physical activity, and shows how we can mix and maximize different types of exercise in a week to get both aerobic and strength training.

There are many benefits to being active. Being active increases our energy, because we build muscle and lung capacity. Physical activity also helps our moods and can alleviate feeling the blues. We sleep better and can fall asleep more easily when we are regularly active. It’s not a good idea, though, to exercise too close to bedtime. Try to use the hour or two before bedtime to relax, which will signal your body to become ready to sleep. We can alleviate some joint pain and increase our bone strength by using our muscles and skeleton to move often.

Being active should be fun and frequent when we find things that we enjoy doing and are willing to step out of our comfort zone and build activity into our days. You may even find that once you practice indoor activities, you’ll warm up to getting out in the cold!

Contact Michigan State University Extension in your area to learn about nutrition education sessions for low income participants, which includes physical activity promotion and practice in the sessions.

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