The colder temps and shortened hours of daylight through fall and winter can make sticking to a regular exercise routine a bit of a challenge. Combine the seasonal inactivity with holiday meals, football parties and fattening comfort food and what do you get? A recipe for weight gain.
To beat the bulge this winter, it’s important to get creative about your exercise and diet. Luckily, there are plenty of options to keep you active, healthy and happy all winter long. (And some don’t cost a thing!)
As you can see, just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to bunker down until the first sign of spring, but it is important to remember to play it safe during colder temps.
- Raking leaves for just 10 minutes counts toward the 150 minutes of moderate aerobic, or cardiovascular, exertion recommended per week by the Centers for Disease Control for adults 18 to 64 years old.
- Mall walking offers shelter from cooler weather and precipitation, even walking surfaces and plenty of people-watching to keep you entertained! Walking is an excellent form of aerobic exercise that promotes cardiovascular health and reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
- Climbing stairs quickly elevates the heart rate, strengthens muscles throughout the legs and tones the core… and you don’t need an expensive stair climber to do it! If you work in a building with more than one floor, try to get in a few “laps” in the stairwell over lunch and over breaks. Or, head to your local high school football field, track or gymnasium and climb the bleachers.
- Cross country skiing is an excellent cardiovascular workout that engages the enite body. It depends on how much you weigh and how fast you ski, but a person can burn 250-860 calories cross country skiing for 30 minutes! Don’t own your own equipment? Consider renting a pair from Polk County Conservation!
- Ice skating is fun at any age, and there are plenty of parks and arenas around Des Moines where public ice skating is allowed. Always follow the posted signs and never go onto the ice if there are warnings about think ice, cracks or high temperatures. To play it safe, visit recreational ice arenas like the Metro Sports Ice Arena in Urbandale, Brenton Skating Plaza in Downtown Des Moines or the new Ice Ridge at Southridge Mall!
Three primary dangers of cold weather exercise are frost bite, hypothermia, and an increased risk of heart attack. Cold air can also restrict your airway, making it more difficult to breathe. If you have asthma, exercise-induced bronchitis, heart conditions or Reynold’s Disease, it’s important to consult with a doctor before you begin exercising during cold weather.