Tips for Transitioning to Winter Workouts
Winter is almost here, and the temperatures are getting colder outside. While this time of year brings many wonderful things, it can also wreak havoc on your fitness regimen. Even the most hardcore exercise enthusiasts often struggle to stay motivated and maintain consistent workout routines once it gets cold.
There are a variety of reasons why you may find it harder to exercise in the winter. If you regularly exercise outside, you may find that the cold weather prevents you from getting your favorite workouts in. For others, the short daylight hours may take away their motivation to stay active.
Regardless of the reason, it’s critical that you maintain a solid fitness routine all winter long. Not only will exercising in the winter keep you in shape and prevent you from gaining weight, but it will be beneficial to your heart health.
The following tips can help you power through the winter doldrums to maintain an exercise routine that will keep you healthy during the cold months.
Tips to Help Motivate You to Stay Active
If your primary problem is staying motivated to exercise in the winter months, the following tips will help you fight through this cold weather malaise:
- Find an exercise partner or group – It’s easier to bail on your workout when you exercise alone. Working out with a partner or group creates some accountability, social support and camaraderie that will help you follow through on your fitness plans. If you exercise at home, consider taking live classes on Instagram or Zoom to provide this social motivation.
- Exercise on your lunch break – If you find it hard to exercise in the dark, then early morning or end-of-day workouts may not be ideal during the winter. Instead, consider working out on your lunch break when there is still plenty of daylight.
- Put on your workout clothes before leaving work – This step all but ensures you’ll make that drive to the gym after work. Once you’re in your exercise clothes, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll bail on the way home.
- Get on a regular gym routine – Most people are creatures of habit. You’re more likely to stick with an exercise routine if you do it at the same time each week. Figure out 3-4 times a week when exercise will fit into your schedule and block off this time on your calendar for your workout. Once you’ve done this for a few weeks, these workouts will become part of your regular schedule.
- Try at-home workouts – If you’re not a fan of the gym or if a gym membership doesn’t fit into your budget, start working out at home. You can get a few sets of dumbbells and an exercise mat without spending too much money. There are also lots of body weight exercises such as squats, lunges, planks and pushups which you can do at home. If you prefer working out with an instructor, there are plenty of exercise videos and apps which can provide structure when you exercise at home. And, if your exercise bike needs maintenance, search for exercise bike repairs near me online to ensure it stays in good condition for your home workouts.
- Start playing an indoor sport – If you prefer to get your exercise from playing sports, there are plenty of indoor activities to do all winter long. There are many indoor tennis, basketball, soccer and hockey leagues to join.
Tips for Exercising Outdoors in the Winter
If you want to exercise outdoors during the winter, the following tips will help ensure you’re working out safely:
- Warm up before working out – A warmup should always be part of your routine, but it’s especially important when exercising outdoors in the winter. This will increase muscle and core temperature, improve blood flow and oxygen uptake, and increase muscle and neurological activation. Bodyweight exercises such as high knees, walking lunges, squats and planks provide a great warmup.
- Wear layers – Wear a tight, moisture wicking layer close to the skin, then a mid-layer that provides insulation and preserves body heat. You may wear these tights for women so you can move comfortably. Your outer layer should provide ventilation and facilitate moisture transfer. Don’t forget about your extremities – wear gloves and a hat to ensure you stay warm.
- Be mindful of medical conditions – Respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be made worse by exercising in the cold weather. The same holds true for autoimmune diseases such as Lupus or MS. If you have a condition that is made worse by exercising outside in the cold, consider transitioning to indoor workouts.
- Don’t forget to hydrate – Hydration is just as important when exercising in cold weather as when you are exercising in the heat.
- Check weather conditions – Always check the weather forecast before going outside to exercise. Pay attention to the temperature, wind chill and moisture. This will ensure you wear the proper layers. If the forecast calls for extremely cold temperatures, extreme wind chills or wet/snowy weather, you should exercise indoors instead.
- Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia – Exercising outside in the cold weather increases your risk of frostbite and hypothermia. Early warning signs of frostbite include numbness, loss of feeling or a stinging sensation. Signs of hypothermia include intense shivering, slurred speech, fatigue and loss of coordination. Get out of the cold right away if you notice any signs of either condition. If you suspect you have hypothermia, seek emergency medical attention at once.
South Denver Cardiology Can Help You Establish a Heart Healthy Winter Workout Routine
At South Denver Cardiology, we’re committed to helping you maintain optimal heart health year-round. In addition to diagnostic testing to identify signs of a heart condition at their earliest stages, we also offer a variety of health and wellness services. Our Medical Fitness Gym provides you with a place to stay active and fit indoors during the winter months. You can also talk to our certified exercise specialists for recommendations on how to safely exercise outside during the cold weather.
For those interested in pairing a heart healthy diet with a new winter fitness routine, we offer nutritional counseling services to better understand how the foods you eat impact your heart health.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment at South Denver Cardiology Associates, serving the South Denver area and Littleton, with locations in Englewood, Denver, Parker and Castle Rock.
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