Winter Wonderland

As the winter weather approaches, it is very easy to want to cuddle up at home with some hot cocoa and watch a movie or your favorite TV show. This is a great every once in a while pastime. However, with additional eating and drinking this Holiday Season as well as the temptation to snuggle up, it is important to still incorporate exercise and activity into your regular schedule this winter.

Try these simple techniques to stay active this winter!

1. Walking/Running Outside. Walking is a great place for anyone to start exercising in the first place, or a way for them to increase the frequency of their exercise routine. Walking can be a fun way to socialize with a neighbor, friend, or family members and also make exercising a “buddy system” mechanism. Perhaps it is an after dinner routine that you make and explore your neighborhood or other surrounding neighborhoods to look at the beautiful Holiday lights around the town! When walking outside, make sure to be dressed warm enough and be able to take off layers when you begin to heat up too much. It is also important to stretch before leaving your home to walk outside, as it is important for your muscles to warm up before you begin to exercise. If you are capable and able, you can still run outdoors during these cold months. However, once again, be sure to be dressed warmly enough in performance exercise clothes and outerwear so that you are initially warm enough, but are still able to take off layers. If you are not a runner, outdoor running when it is cold and often times slippery outside, this is not the time to explore running. Perhaps you could run on an indoor track if you would like to begin running this winter.

2. Snowy Activities. Winter allows for outdoor sports such as skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and tubing! Cross-country skiing is the most obvious cardio workout, however, even trudging through the snow is a great cardio workout! It provides more resistance than just walking on a normal, clear path and thus makes your heart work harder! Although it is not always a crowd-pleaser, shoveling is also a great snow-filled way to stay active. When shoveling, understand your own strength and do not overload yourself. It is easy to hurt your back or be sore after shoveling. As preventative measures, stretch before going out to shovel and do not try to lift too much snow in one shovel load. So instead of dreading shoveling the driveway, next time think of it as a way to get in some exercise time for the day!

3. Be Playful. It is always fun to push away your adulthood for a bit and enjoy life with the laughter and enjoyment of a child. After a snowfall, take your kids outside and build a snowman with them or a neat snow fort. After all, who doesn’t secretly enjoy building the best fortress to make themselves undefeatable in a snow ball fight? If you do not have kids, you can still go out and play in the snow and embrace your inner child. You could also go ice-skating or play ice hockey. Either way, you can have fun and exercise all at the same time!

4. Indoor Gym Activities. If you have a gym membership, winter can be the best time to get the most bang out of your buck! Schedule out a time 3-4 times per week that you will go to the gym to exercise. It does not have to be the cliché walking on the treadmill. Try a group fitness class that your gym offers, such as kickboxing, Zumba, or spinning. You could also go for a swim in the indoor pool. As a Marquette employee, you can get great rates at the Rec Center, so what better time than now to sign up!

5. Indoor Workouts in the Comfort of Your Own Home. If a snowstorm keeps you homebound for the day, put in those exercise DVDs you bought but do not get much use and get moving using those! If that is not the case for you, during this day and age, you can find almost any type of workout routine on the Internet. You could definitely find a Zumba or kickboxing class, or even a body weight type of class online—so you would not need any additional equipment. If you are just looking for a fun/carefree activity, put on your favorite tunes and dance around your house! Your kids would LOVE this!

6. Restorative Activities. Winter is a great excuse to explore gentle or peaceful activities, such as yoga, tai chai, or meditation. Meditation is more so focused on relaxation (both physically and mentally), but yoga and tai chai can also build strength (especially core strength) and increase your flexibility. These types of classes can be a great way to restore your energy and keep a positive mindset throughout these months where it can be saddening to be inside so much and also that it gets dark outside so much earlier.

7. Household Chores. Give yourself credit for cleaning! When we are inside our homes so much more during these winter months, try to limit your screen time and amp up your cleaning! Most people enjoy a clean house anyways—now we get to be excited that this can be a form of activity! Vacuuming, swiffering, mopping, dusting, rearranging, organizing, and general cleaning are all great ways to get moving and feel a great sense of accomplishment.

Winter is not always everyone’s favorite time of year, especially here in Wisconsin when it seems to snow and be cold for sometimes forever. Additionally to the Holiday season, winter does offer things to get excited about. There are so many fun things to do outdoors during the winter that can get you moving and off of the couch. Think of this winter as a challenge for yourself and your family to find creative ways to stay moving!

By: Natalie Radloff

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