Winter Workouts: Why and How to Get Active This Winter
In this article:
- It is possible to stay active all winter. Winter workouts can help reverse holiday weight gain and improve health. Walking, skiing, bicycling, or snowboarding may be possible depending on where you live.
- Benefits of exercising outdoors compared to indoors include seeing improved endurance, having more space, and getting natural daylight.
- Staying outside can also help lower the risk of spreading COVID-19 or other viral infections.
- Simple steps can make it easier to get active during the winter.
- Lark has activity tracking and weight and health coaching to help you hit your goals!
Getting your exercise has a world of benefits. Are you getting them this winter? As a reminder, physical activity can have these (and more) effects.
- Help with weight control.
- Improve heart health.
- Lower blood sugar and blood pressure.
- Improve mood.
- Lower stress.
- Improve immunity.
And heading out the door to work out can have more advantages. Read on to see why working out outside can help. Plus, read these tips for making it easier to get your exercise all winter, whether inside or out.
Benefits of Going Outside
Why would you go outside in winter? It may be chilly or downright cold but exercising outdoors in winter is safer than you may think and it has a world of benefits, such as these.
If you exercise outdoors, you may notice that you can go for longer during winter months than summer months. Harvard Health Publishing explains why cold weather leads to better endurance.
- Boosts metabolism. Burn more calories with the same activity.
- Lowers heart rate. Go for longer at the same intensity.
2. Mood and Energy
Compared to exercising indoors, exercising outdoors has benefits related to natural light. Going outside can boost your mood. It can normalize circadian rhythms so you sleep better at night and are more rested during the day.
3. Vitamin D
Also, radiation from the sun can trigger your skin to produce vitamin D. Still, radiation is not intense enough in northern climates during the winter to produce enough vitamin D.
4. Better Workouts
You may have more space when you are outdoors. Indoors spaces are limited by walls. Home workout areas may be small or have furniture or other barriers that limit movement. Gyms may have workout equipment that prevents a lot of motion. Or you may need to be considerate of other members and keep your workout to a small area. With outdoors and winter workouts, you can move without restrictions.
5. Lowering Infectious Disease Risk
The risk of getting COVID-19 is lower when you are outside compared to when you are indoors around other people. That was also true before the COVID-19 pandemic. You are less likely to catch colds and flu when you are in fresh air compared to being in a gym or indoors setting with others. Mayo Clinic has more information.
What Can You Do Outside?
The simplest is walking. Most people can do it without thinking about it. It can be a great place to start. You can progress to brisk walking. And you can add some jogging or uphill walking if you like.
Other outdoor and winter activities can include these, depending on the climate where you live.
- Skiing, sledding, or snowboarding.
- Hiking, kayaking, or rock climbing.
Often, you can take "indoor" activities outside. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many group fitness activities moved outside to parking lots and parks. You can do a solo or small group workout outside at a park or your backyard by setting up your equipment there.
- Put your stationary bike on the porch.
- Bring dumbbells and a mat outside.
- Follow a dance or workout video on a laptop.
Be sure to dress properly, stay hydrated, and ask your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Overcoming Winter Barriers
Are you short on motivation? Lack of time and desire can be year-round barriers. In winter, these additional barriers can be there.
- Short days that lead to dark mornings and evenings.
- Frigid temperatures.
- Wind, snow, and rain.
These are some strategies for making it easier to get out the door any time of the year.
- Add your workout to your calendar. That helps you save time for it. And it gets you in the mindset of committing to it.
- Get enough sleep. Research published in Journal of Sleep Medicine found that exercise was easier after participants got enough sleep the previous night.
- Arrange to meet a workout buddy. This can be a friend, neighbor, or someone you met in the park with similar fitness goals as you. Meeting someone increases your commitment.
- Set out your workout gear early. Leave it ready at night if you exercise in the morning. Or prep it in the morning if you want to get active later in the day.
During winter, dressing properly can make the difference. Layer up, wear a hat and gloves if needed, and pay attention to how you feel.
Having a backup plan can improve consistency. If weather or other factors keep you from going outside, you can get active indoors. Workout videos, cardio equipment such as treadmills and bikes, and dumbbells or household weights can do the trick.
Lark is another tool for motivation. When you log your activity in Lark, you can:
- Get feedback about your workouts.
- Check your progress over time.
- Work towards activity goals.
Lark can help you fit healthy choices into your lifestyle to lose weight and manage health. Physical activity in winter and spring can have a major impact on health and weight management. There are many ways to overcome challenges such as bad weather and lack of time.
Lark makes physical activity simple. With Lark, weight loss and healthy living happen when you make small changes that fit into your lifestyle. Lark offers tips, tracking, instant feedback, and friendly suggestions. Over time, small healthy changes can become habits for long-term success. Your personal Lark coach is available 24/7 through your smartphone so you can get expert tips, track meals, physical activity, and weight loss.
The entire program may be available at no cost to you if your health insurer covers it. Click here to find out if you may be eligible for Lark! You could be minutes away from taking the first steps to hitting your weight loss goals and improving health.