Safe and low-cost exercise year-round

Inexpensive exercise is still possible during the cold winter months – indoors or outdoors.

Swimming, walking and hiking are fun to doWalking in the winter when the sun is shining and the breeze is warm, but with the snow and cold weather it is difficult to go outside and exercise. Try these ideas for getting your daily exercise either indoors or safely outside.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a comprehensive set of physical activity recommendations for Americans. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provide a set of guidelines for children, adults and older adults to follow with the goal of improving individual health outcomes, and consequently decreasing health risks such as stroke, heart disease or Type 2 diabetes.

These guidelines recommend the following frequency and amounts of physical activity based on age and abilities:

  • Children and adolescents should perform 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity.
  • Adults should perform at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intense, or 75 minutes (one hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intense aerobic physical activity.
  • To receive more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (five hours) a week of moderate intense, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous intense aerobic physical activity.

Note that there are specific guidelines for adults with disabilities, pregnant or older adults. See these within the Physical Activity Guidelines for more detailed information.

What are some ways to get the required amount of exercise when the walkways are slippery and the air is cold? Michigan State University Extension recommends some of these low-cost strategies to get your exercise indoors or safely outside.

  • Get your steps in every day. Try the local mall, large stores, community centers or school tracks for indoor walking. Take the stairs whenever you can or make a workout of climbing stairs.
  • Turn house cleaning into a workout. Keep moving to increase your heart rate while cleaning.
  • Use canned goods as hand weights for strength training.
  • Visit your local library for exercise DVD’s that you can check-out. The variety of workouts available to you at the library will reduce your chances of getting bored.
  • Dress in layers when exercising outside. While you work out, you will get warmed up. Wear a layer of wicking clothing to keep sweat away from your body. Add another layer of warmth, such as fleece for insulation. Add a waterproof jacket that breathes. Protect your hands, feet and ears from frostbite by wearing appropriate head, hand and foot gear.
  • Wear gear that gets you noticed and keeps you moving. Add extra traction to your shoes and wear reflective clothing. During the fall and winter months, there is less daylight, so the reflectors help ensure everyone sees you.

Keeping active is important and part of a healthy lifestyle. Stay motivated to keep physical fitness part of your daily routine by trying these indoor and outdoor strategies.

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