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CalorieKing’s Tips for Winter Exercise – Staying Motivated and Safe!

Many of us find winter to be a challenging time to stay on top of healthy habits. Between holiday festivities and warm, comforting food it is more important than ever to stay focused – especially with your exercise.

Though it’s colder and darker, getting outside can be a really great way to keep things fresh after feeling cooped up inside.  Remember to check with your doctor first as some conditions such as asthma, heart conditions or diabetes where extremities are at risk can prohibit activity in the cold.

Snowboarding

A Family Outing

If you are finding it hard to adjust to the season, let’s talk about finding the motivation to get out the door.  Once you are there, let’s remember to stay safe!

Motivation:

Be Creative – If you are bored with the same old grind at the gym try mixing up your routine with an outdoor winter sport.  There are countless of snow sports if you have plenty of white stuff around – skiing, snow-shoeing and more.  If you don’t have the snow, you can still hike or even head to the rink to ice skate.  Or, try mall walking when the weather is bad.

Remember the Season – Be aware of the holiday season; remember you will be surrounded by excess food and alcohol.  Stay conscious of how this might affect your health and well-being.  Make short term exercise goals an outlet for the excess and stress of the holidays.  Think about looking good and feeling good for all your events.

Think Big Picture – Remember warmer weather is just a few months away and all the heavy, bulky clothes will go back in a box. Think about what having to shed excess winter weight would do to your overall health goals – not exercising now could make the hill harder to climb when spring comes around.  Focusing on your long term goal is great motivation!

Ward off Winter Illness – Staying fit is good for your overall health. Nutrition is only one piece of the health puzzle – remember exercise makes your body strong.  Together, the two pieces are important in the prevention of warding off winter sniffles, colds and the flu.

Be Practical – So it’s dark and cold out when you have the time to exercise.  Don’t get psyched out!  If you exercise in the morning, put your alarm clock across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off! Keep your workout easily accessible so you can’t avoid them.  If you workout after work, take your gear with you and drive past where you might workout on the way home so there are no excuses to skip!

Staying Safe During Winter Workouts:

Layer Up – As strange as it sounds you can dress too warmly.  When you generate heat from exercise you could feel warmer than it really is.  If you start sweating you could get chilled.  To avoid this, dress in layers you can remove as needed.  Start with a material that wicks water away from the body; then add an insulating layer.  Top it off with a waterproof breathable outer layer.  Experiment with the materials and the weights of layers until you a combination that suits you and your activity.

Protect Your Extremities – Remember last winter when your hands and feet were always so cold? That’s because blood flow concentrates on your core and leaves the extremities vulnerable.  Layer up your hands and feet as well.  Don’t forget to wear a hat – preferably one that protects your ears – and a scarf that can protect your face and warm the air as you breathe in.

Get the Right Gear – Layering up is just one aspect of outdoor exercise.  If it is darker out when you head outside wear something reflective.  Remember to choose shoes with extra traction if there is snow where you might be walking (avoid ice in any condition), and wear helmets if you are skiing, snowboarding or participating in any fast winter activity. Always bring your cell phone in case of emergency.

Check the Forecast – Although it is great to get outside, avoid it if it is too cold or raining.  If you get soaked you may never be able to keep your core warm.  Keep an eye on the wind chill that can penetrate even the insulated air from your layers.  Both things can cause frostbite. Learn to recognize the signs– numbness or tingling in the extremities so you can seek help immediately.  Look out for icy conditions that could cause a fall.  Safety is the most important thing; don’t put yourself at risk.

Remember Your Sunscreen – The sun shines even in winter and it is just as easy to get sunburned. Wear a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of 30.  Don’t forget your lips and eyes either – wear a lip balm that has sunscreen and make sure you have sun glasses or goggles that protect your eyes.  Even if you aren’t on the slopes, the sun can sneak up on you.

Stay Hydrated – Just because it is winter doesn’t mean your body won’t need water when you exercise.  Just as you would in warmer weather, drink before, during and after your workouts.

Realistically, we know it can get hard to exercise in the winter.  Whether you branch out to an outdoor activity or prefer the gym, just remember to stay focused and keep it up.  Exercise can improve your mood when it’s dreary out and the extra attention you pay to your healthy habits now means you remain on a steady path towards your goals!

Just getting started with exercise?  Try our Small Steps to Getting Started With Exercise!

Remember to eat healthy this holiday season!  Check out our Best Choices!

Exercise is a great way to beat stress over the holidays.  Get more tips on Beating Holiday Stress!

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