Like many of you, I find myself cueing up “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” and sitting by the fire. For much of the country, a trip outdoors has become an “exercise” in how quickly we can get from car to building. However, that certainly doesn’t mean you should neglect your more formal exercise routine. While during the spring, summer and fall it may be easier to get outside for a walk or a trip to the park, that’s not always an option in the winter. But there are still plenty of ways you can stay active in the warmth of the indoors.
To start, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a gym as a fantastic place for your indoor workout. They generally have all the equipment, classes, pools and other options available. While it may not be as beautiful as running or walking outside, spending some time on the treadmill or elliptical machine is still a great cardio workout.
However, I realize not everyone has a gym membership; or, sometimes there’s a foot or more of snow on the ground making it more difficult, or even unsafe, to make a trip to the gym. If that is the case, here are some tips I’ve pulled from Yahoo! Voices, Livestrong and Lifescript:
- Run in place – Just because you can’t run outside doesn’t mean you can’t still get some cardio in. Pop in the mp3 player and get those feet moving. To vary it up try some high knees, if you can, or even work on trying to kick your bottom with your heels. These will work different muscles while also providing you with a good cardio workout.
- Use your furniture for tricep dips – We all have different types of furniture inside our homes, so use it for a different purpose this winter. For instance, you can use a sturdy chair, bed or a bench to do tricep dips.
- Tone your quads with your actual house – While walls and steps serve an obvious purpose, they can also be used in your indoor workout routine. To work the quads, put your back against a strong wall in your house and then move down into a squatted position, with your back remaining against the wall. Once your knees are at a 90 degree angle (or as low as you can go), keep that position for as long as you can. Take a short break and start again. You can also use your stairs to do calf raises. Face your stairs, place your toes on one step and let your heels hang off the back. Lower your body down and up, making sure to squeeze the calf muscles.
- Don’t forget your core – Although there are plenty of machines at the gym to help work your abs, you can get a wonderful ab workout without equipment or weights! Find a mat or a soft carpet and work your crunch routine. You will want to make sure you are pulling your shoulders off the floor slightly and looking toward the ceiling. Remember, you want your abs to get the workout, not your neck. Add variation to the routine by doing crossover crunches (bringing your right elbow to your left knee and vice versa) and also trying leg lifts (keep your legs straight while you let them hover slightly off the floor or bring them up so your body forms an L position).
- Use household objects as weights – while sometimes it’s nice to have a set of dumbbells around, it’s not always needed. You can use anything from a phone book to a gallon of milk to a can of tomato juice to a bottle of water. Make sure the object you choose isn’t too heavy for you – you should be able to control the weight, not let it control you. It’s also a good idea to avoid anything that could get too messy!
These are just a few tips to help you out this winter as you attempt to get your exercise in. Keep in mind that you can modify all of these exercises to be more or less intensive to better match your current fitness level. But please remember it’s always important to check with your doctor before beginning a new routine.
More than anything, don’t let the cold temperatures keep you from accomplishing your fitness goals. Staying active is an important part of a healthy lifestyle throughout the year and not just when the weather allows us to enjoy the great outdoors.
All the best,