How to get more exercise in the winter
Why exercise in winter?
Exercise is always good for the body and mind, but it is particularly important to continue this habit even when the weather gets cold. Getting plenty of exercise in the winter can lead to many health benefits, including:
- Increasing the amount of vitamin D in your body1
- Boosting your immunity during cold and flu season1
- Decreasing sluggishness and easing other symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD)2
Too cold? Exercise indoors
To gain health benefits, adults need at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity (brisk walking, for example).3 However, several indoor activities can be considered exercise, so don’t let weather stop you from meeting that goal.
If you have children, you can get up and play actively with them. Join them for a dance party or turn on some music and have one by yourself! You can also find lots of exercise videos online to do from the comfort of your home.
Many household chores you must do anyway, such as vacuuming, are a way to check both exercise and cleaning off your list. Additionally, if you have stairs in your house, making extra trips up and down them will help you get a workout.
Bundle up and get outside!
Don’t let the cold stop you from getting an outdoor workout. Dress in layers (make sure you put moisture-wicking layers closest to your skin1) and take your workout outside. Go for a walk or a hike, or even try a new activity such as ice skating or snowshoeing.
Like indoor chores, many outdoor activities also help you get more physical activity. For example, raking leaves and shoveling snow often must be done anyway, so you may as well make these chores a satisfying workout.
Make sure you take proper precautions, like checking the sidewalk conditions before you go on a walk or a run. Additionally, it’s important to choose the proper footwear for the activity and the weather, so your feet stay comfortable and dry.4
Other tips for winter activities
- It’s easy to remember to drink plenty of water in the summer when it’s hot outside, but don’t forget to stay hydrated when it’s cold as well.
- Particularly in cold weather, it is important to take time to warm up and cool down your muscles before and after a workout.
It can be challenging to prioritize exercise during the cold months of the year, but with a little creativity you can still get the physical activity you need. What’s your favorite way to exercise in the winter?
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- American Heart Association. How to stay active in cold weather. December 1, 2016. Accessed November 24, 2020.
- Cleveland Clinic. 3 strategies to fight seasonal affective disorder. November 12, 2019. Accessed November 24, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How to be physically active while social distancing. November 4, 2020. Accessed November 23, 2020.
- Cleveland Clinic. How to stay active outside when the weather gets colder. October 15, 2020. Accessed November 24, 2020.