Cold weather and plentiful food combine to make winter a serious fitness problem. Chilly wind and flurries make gaining a couple rolls around your stomach seem much more appealing than braving the cold, and the never ending supply of holiday party food helps those rolls become a reality.
If you find yourself struggling go outdoors for your normal run or make it to the gym, try these four tips that I conveniently ordered by ascending cost.
- Body weight exercises at home (free)
The cheapest and most convenient option, body weight exercises can be done anywhere that you have a 5′ x 8′ patch of clear floor. You can simply do a bunch of pushups, squats, and sit ups, or you can follow a workout video.
I really like this intense 12 minute routine.
- Gear up, warm up, look down (cheap)
If outdoor running is your thing, the cold doesn’t have to stop you. With the right tools and planning, winter running can still be enjoyable.
First, if it is below freezing minimize exposed skin. Since you will start to warm up over the course of your run, warm, wicking layers are essential. Make sure to listen to your body and vent more (unzip your outer layer, remove hat) if you become overly warm. You can always cover back up, but becoming sweaty will make the rest of the run quite uncomfortable.
Secondly, take it slowly at first. Warming up indoors is unideal because it will likely lead to sweat, so begin your run at 2/3 your normal pace and slowly build up speed. Once again, listen to your body. Cold increases your chance of injury, so compensate by being attentive.
Lastly, if it is cold enough for ice, look out for ice. Make sure to scan the ground ahead of you to avoid any icy patches. Altering your stride length can also help to keep you safe. Shorter and faster steps will prevent you from overextending your legs. As an additional safety measure, carry your phone with you when you run in case of injury.
- Set up a home gym (Cost of dumbbells to thousands of dollars)
If you have the space and the initial money to invest, home gyms are an economic way to stay motivated throughout the year. Since you never even have to leave the house, cold weather won’t stay in the way of your fitness dreams. Additionally, having a gym feet away from you instead of miles means you are (or at least I am) less likely to procrastinate on working out.
Setting up a home gym can be as simple (and cheap!) as buying a set of dumbbells or kettlebells. I really like these kettlebells I received for Christmas. You can also make a much higher investment and build your own little gym in your home. When I buy a house I plan on purchasing a squat rack, gym mat, Olympic barbell, and plate set. Depending on your fitness goals and needs, other smart buys include a bench, treadmill, and pull up bar.
- Gym membership (~$30 a month)
Finally, the simple but expensive gym membership. I currently have a free gym membership and there’s a lot I like about it. There are a ton of options as far as weights go and they have several pieces of equipment that I wouldn’t pay for but enjoy using (such as the leg raise machine). Additionally, if I massively blundered a lift and injured myself, there are people around who can help me. Finally, gyms often offer fitness classes, which can be fun ways to stay in shape.
While I don’t have experience with this, I image paying for a gym membership also inspires more frequent use so that hard earned money doesn’t go to waste. To further motivate gym attendance, or at least remove a barrier, keep your gym bag in your car or at work so that you don’t have to return home and risk deciding to veg out.
Hopefully these tips will keep you happily healthy until warm weather emerges!