Work Out in Winter

From the WebMD Archives

By Amber Greviskes

In Chicago (where I’m from), there are so many subzero days that by mid-January, you feel as if you might see penguins outside your window instead of people (albeit very bundled-up people). One year, I pretended that “it wasn’t that bad” and threw on my running gear. Within 20 minutes, I had frostbite -- and spent the next week on prescription painkillers. That destroyed any love I may have had for winter workouts. Other years, what with all of the holiday prep and parties, there didn't seem to be enough time to exercise. So I just reached for large, comfy sweaters and stretchy leggings to hide my extra winter pounds (bikini season was months away, after all).

Eventually, though, I tried on a pair of pants that were buried in the back of the closet... and they didn’t fit. Time to warm up to winter workouts!

If your excuses have been holding you back from working out when the weather gets cold, see how you can reclaim your motivation:

But... the weather is terrible. Rainy, snowy and cold weather can be very discouraging. If you haven't already found a gym near your apartment, now's the time. “Consider hiring a trainer to come to your apartment,” suggests Mahri Relin, owner of Body Conceptions by Mahri, Ltd. “Otherwise, find scheduled classes and make them a regular part of your week. When you join classes or hire trainers, you’re not just counting on yourself to make the workout happen.”

But... everyone is in my way at the gym. You’re not the only one who made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Your favorite gym has a longer wait than your favorite brunch place. You can’t even get into your yoga class. And if you actually score a spot in Zumba, the quarters will be so close that you’re sure to get punched by the girl next to you. “Try an at-home workout,” suggests registered dietitian Elizabeth Jarrard. “Nike Training, high-intensity interval training and body-weight workouts are all great.”


But... I’m depressed. After the holidays, it’s common to feel down. Add in the seasonal affective disorder brought on by winter darkness and you can feel out of sorts for weeks. “Invest in a light box, which you can use for 30 minutes each morning to give you the boost you need,” Relin says. “Or, use your mood as additional motivation: An exercise class will make you feel happier and more positive about your day for hours.”

But... I’m more injury-prone in the cold. You should be warming up and cooling down whether it’s 30 degrees or 80. “Instead of dreading a long warm-up, look at exercise as an opportunity to make your body feel warmer than it has been all day,” Relin says. “You’ll also be improving your circulation.” If you gear up accordingly, in fact, you can exercise safely outdoors all winter long -- even in subzero temperatures. The colder it is outside, the better your post-workout shower will feel!

But... I’ll never get back in shape after the holidays. You overdid it with the Christmas cookies or cheese balls, and now you’re beating yourself up over it. No worries -- just move on. “When the holidays hit and we find ourselves eating large amounts of sweets and fatty foods, we often tell ourselves that we’re being ‘bad’ [and that] we might as well give in and go all out -- forget the exercise,” says Relin. “This kind of thinking is damaging, especially because being ‘good’ again eventually becomes a mountainous task. Take away the requirement to be ‘good’ all the time and strive for a life filled with exercise and also the ability to have off days.”

But... I don’t have to wear a bikini for at least six months. Change your perspective on fitness: Instead of considering it something that makes you svelte and attractive, look at it as something that helps you feel happier and healthier. “Who said we have to be threatened by exposure to concern ourselves with a healthy lifestyle?” Relin asks. Still not convinced? Schedule a March beach vacation with a couple of friends -- thatmight get you motivated.

Now that we’ve debunked all of your myths about winter workouts, put on your shoes, hat, gloves and scarf -- and get moving!

WebMD Feature from Turner Broadcasting System
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