Embracing Winter Workouts

Do you find yourself giving up on your daily outdoor runs as soon as the temperature drops? I know I do. I run all spring and summer with the pooch, enjoy the sights, the fresh air, the people, and then it all comes to a screeching halt on the first 50 degree day.  I’m suddenly trapped in the confines of my gym, dreaming of warmer weather.

But that’s just the sun worshiping goddess in me. Maybe you’re a winter baby and enjoy the crisp, sub-zero, soul crushing air….was that dramatic enough? Okay good. Follow along for some ideas to mix up your outdoor winter workouts, or figure out where to begin if you’re like me and can’t even imagine walking to your car to get to the gym.

Find a Friend

You put on your running shoes and cold-weather gear, walk out the door, and find grey skies and a REALLY chilly breeze. Do you go right back inside or push through? Well, if you have a buddy counting on you, you’ll be less likely to cancel your run. Oh, all of your friends are like me and can’t bear to go outside in the winter? Find a fitness group on websites like meetup.com. Here, you’ll find people with the same interests as you to help motivate you to keep on running when the temperatures plummet! You can even take the initiative to start your own group!

Circuit Training to Keep You Warm

You want your outdoor winter workouts to be high intensity so your blood is continuously flowing. Try doing some circuit training so your “rest” periods keep you active. Try jogging or running for 5 to ten minutes, but keep moving with the following exercise circuit:

  • Push ups

The ground is cold and maybe covered in snow, so find a park bench and place your hands shoulder width apart. Inhale and bring your sternum (chest) toward the bench. Once your hands reach a 90 degree angle exhale and push yourself back to start.

  • Squats

You don’t need a bench for these! Stop where you are and bring your feet a little wider than hip width apart. Keeping your spine neutral, squat down to touch the ground with your fingertips between your legs. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed on both legs, and you keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to stand.

  • Lunges

If you find walking to be a boring active rest period, lunges will be your best friend! Take a giant step forward and lower your body to the ground while keeping your front knee aligned with your toes. Adjust if your knee tracks over the toes or behind the toes. Alternate legs and travel forward. Keep your core engaged and head and chest tall through the movements.

  • V Sits

Again, we don’t need to sit on the wet or snowy ground to get some ab work in. Find that park bench and take a seat at the edge. Place your hands by your side to hold on to the edge of the bench, lean back and straighten your legs so your body is in a straight line. Bring your knees to your chest in a crunch while you exhale, and inhale back to the start position. Be sure to look up softly to the sky to keep your neck and spine aligned.

You can create whatever type of circuit you want with these exercises. Here’s a sample:

jog (5 mins) > push-ups (30 secs) >  jog (5 mins) > squat (30 secs) > jog (5 mins) > lunges (30 secs) > jog (5 mins) > v-sits (30 secs) > jog (5 mins)

Change your Attitude

Don’t be like me. (That’s a great thing for a personal trainer to say, right? Maybe this winter, I’ll take my own advice.) Many people see outdoor winter activities as “playtime,” think sledding, snowball fights, snowshoeing, etc. But remember, this playfulness can be turned into your workout for the day! You can also sort of trick yourself into exercise by changing your attitude about cold weather workouts. Tell yourself you’re going to go for a 10 minute walk. You may get outside and find yourself invigorated by the cold air and turn it into a 30 minute walk/jog!

Winter exercise tips

My friend recently asked me what she should wear to go for her winter weather runs. Layers, layers, layers. Until your body is warmed up, you’re going to be chilly. And once you get warmer, you may need to let some of that heat escape by taking off a layer.

Bring tissues! Don’t let a runny nose keep you from reaching that extra mile in your run. And don’t ruin your cute workout gear by wiping your nose on your sleeve. Ew.

Keep moving once you start. Don’t stop to a complete standstill. Your blood is pumping and keeping you warm, and your body temperature will drop too quickly if you come to a halt.

Listen to your body. STOP if you feel any numbness. Don’t exercise in super cold weather if you have circulatory problems or asthma.

Don’t be stupid. Don’t workout outside if it’s snowing or raining. Don’t workout outside if it’s 10 degrees or lower. Don’t workout outside if it rained overnight and is 20 degrees in the morning and there’s black ice everywhere. Be smart!!

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