Winter is a challenge to both amateur runners and fitness enthusiasts. After a long spring, summer, and fall of regular exercise, cold temperatures and hostile conditions have a way of keeping even the most active folks stuck in the house. It can be beyond frustrating: Not only do short days, snowstorms, and bitter cold disrupt a comfortable routine, but it also means panicking about what all that time on the couch means for the physique you’ve been working hard to maintain. And don’t even mention the holidays.
While you may not be able to maintain summer fitness levels, you can still put together a cold-weather workout routine. These tips to keep up your workout through winter will keep you moving and off the couch so that, when spring finally comes, you won’t have to start all over again.
Don’t Skip Warm-Ups
In summer, it can be tempting to roll out of bed, throw on your gym shoes, and run a few miles while the sun is still coming up. In the bracing cold of a western Pennsylvania winter, this is a bad idea. Remember what your gym teachers always taught you: don’t skip stretches! In addition to stretching out before you start, take it easy as you begin and work your way up to full strength instead of leaving the house at full speed. It may be frustrating if that’s not what you’re used to, but it’s better than finding yourself running on empty with two miles to go.
Make the Most of Your Chores
Usually, the old axiom is “work smarter, not harder.” But if you’re missing the gym and the trails, you can find ways to work harder. If the snow isn’t too heavy, consider trading in the snowblower for a shovel and work your upper body with some manual snow removal. Shoveling is hard work, and the calories you’ll burn will reflect that. If you’re up for it, be a healthy Good Samaritan and shovel a neighbor’s driveway, too.
Don’t Just Layer Up—Layer Smart
It seems self-evident that you should cope with the cold by throwing layers on top of layers. The more insulation you have, the warmer you’ll be, right? Not necessarily. Layering with the wrong fabrics can actually leave you feeling even colder than you were when you first stepped out the door. As you get moving, moisture gets trapped in those bottom layers and clings to your skin. Wet fabric on skin in cold air is a recipe for getting chilled to the bone, and not many things will dissuade you from working out in the winter more than that. Start by layering with moisture-wicking materials that keep you warm and dry, not to mention preserving your range of motion in ways that soggy undershirts won’t. Of all the tips to keep up your workout through winter, staying warm and dry could be the most critical tip of all.