I live in Minnesota. Yes, the perception for many who don't live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, is that living in Minnesota is like living in the frozen tundra. I suppose in the dead of winter, oh about late January or early February, it does feel a bit like the tundra. Some winters we experience record-breaking snowfall and freezing temps, but we do have three other seasons besides winter. At any rate, outside of a two-year stint in Houston, Texas, I have lived through many cold and snowy winters.
I will be the first to admit, I do not like the cold, and I dream about moving to sunny California. However, the truth is, when we lived in Texas, I desperately missed home AND missed the white winters. Which means, if you live in a climate that is cold and snowy and you want to be healthy and active, you can't hibernate for the winter. You find ways to keep moving and make the best of it. For some that means bundling up and enjoying outdoor sports and for others it is finding ways to get some movement while staying warm indoors.
If you want to survive the winter months without the winter weight gain, don't let the cold and snow turn you into a hibernating bear. Here are 10 healthy activities you can do when it's cold outside.
1. Go Mall Walking. You might just be surprised at how many steps you get in by spending the afternoon strolling the mall. I just happen to live about 20 minutes from the Mall of America and can easily get in 10,000 by walking every level. We aren't looking to speed walk the mall in record time but to get up, get out and get moving. Don't let sitting be the death of you.
2. Run Up & Down Stairs. I realize not everyone has a set of stairs in their house, but if you do, give this a try. Run up and down your stairs for 10 sets of 10. You don't have to do it all at once, but say every hour on the hour, sprint up and walk down your stairs. If you can't sprint, walk it. We have a set of 15 stairs in our house. Up and down is 30. That's 3,000 extra steps throughout the day. No stairs, not problem. Find a sturdy chair or stool you can step up and off of.
3. Clean the House. I wear a Fitbit to monitor my daily movement. It is a great tool and provides instant feedback of my activity throughout the day. We live in a modest home with two floors. When I clean it from top to bottom I can easily get in 5,000 steps in just a few hours time.
4. Do Bodyweight Exercises. I am a big believer in weight training and think everybody should be doing it. That being said, bodyweight exercises are a great way to get in additional movement, but don't let it replace your workouts. We aren't looking to fatigue the muscles, but to use them, get the blood flowing and the heart rate up. Jumping jacks, lunges, burpees, pushups, squats etc. are all exercises you can do with no equipment.
5. Ski. Snowboard. Snowshoe. Yep, if you are bundled up with the appropriate outdoor apparel, you can head outdoors and enjoy winter sports. Here in Minnesota there are miles of trails groomed for cross-country skiers and snowshoers. We have a small ski resort about 10 minutes from our house that has all level hills for both skiers and snowboarders. If you don't know how, take a lesson. Don't have the equipment, rent it.
6. Go Sledding. Going down a big hill with snow being thrown in your face can be exhilarating. So can walking up the hill once you get to the bottom. Sledding is hard work. Golf courses usually have some great hills.
7. Play Hide & Seek. This is not just a game for kids. My family, including the adults, has a great time playing this game. No, I'm serious. While this doesn't provide a whole lot of movement, it is still more activity than sitting on the couch.
8. Go to the Gym. Unless you are snowed in, the cold is no excuse to skip the gym. I realize it can feel like a chore, to warm up the car, bundle up, and traipse through a snowy parking lot while your cheeks are freezing, but make the best of it. Hit the weights, maybe walk a little on the treadmill afterwards, then instead of rushing to get home, use the sauna, steam room or hot tub. Instead of a quick, get in, get out, mentality, if you are putting in the effort to get to the gym, take the time to reward yourself with a little pampering when your workout is complete.
9. Self-Myofascial Release. Most of you are like, what the heck is that. If you haven't heard of self-myofascial release (SMR), it is a form of self-massage done with a foam roller. The benefits of SMR are many, correcting muscle imbalances, improving joint range of motion, relieving muscle soreness to name a few. You can roll just about every muscle in your body and ladies, listen up, there are even some anecdotal reports of SMR reducing cellulite.
10. Rearrange the Furniture. As long as you are going to be cleaning your house, why not move the furniture along with it. Not only is moving heavy furniture a great workout, I find it is a mood brightener as well. I've been known to rearrange every season. If you don't like change, then when you are cleaning, be sure to pull the furniture away from the wall and vacuum behind it.
Friends, that is my list of 10 healthy activities you can do when it's cold outside to stay active. This list is of course not meant to be all-inclusive but just some ideas. If you live in a cold climate and find yourself sitting instead of moving, give one of these a try. Now it's your turn…