I am NOT a cold weather person.
Personally, I don’t like breathing air that hurts.
But I know that, for both my mental and physical health, it’s really important to stay active during these months of grey days and long nights. If you’re also looking for ways to keep moving during the winter months, here are 9 ideas that might tempt you out of the blanket burrito.
1. Get Fishy. The temps are constant year-round at the local pool, so winter might be just the time to take up swimming. Doing laps at the pool can be great exercise year-round, but is an even more appealing option when it just too dang cold outside. Tip: make sure you moisturize head to toe after swimming, so that the chlorine doesn’t aggravate your winter dry skin.
2. Find a Class. Like the local pool, the temps are steady and comfortable at your local gym or community center. Winter is an excellent time to try a new activity like swing dancing, spinning, or even fencing. My go-to indoor activity is Jazzercise, a year-round opportunity to shake my groove thing! See what's out there in your community that can keep you moving and feeling awesome.
3. Team Up. There are lots of team sports that have winter leagues, like basketball, racquetball, or pickleball (it's a real thing!). Being part of a team can add an element of accountability to your activity—you’ll go even if it’s cold, so that you don’t let your team down. It also makes winter exercise feel more like fun and less like work, which is not a bad thing, friends.
Bonus: maybe you'll win a little trophy!
4. Team Up: Part 2. Speaking of accountability, I find it really helpful to have a workout buddy. Especially in the winter, knowing someone is meeting you at the gym or the pool can be just the right amount of motivation to get you out from under the blankets and into your tennies. You and a friend can join a team or take a class together. Or you can join the same gym and agree to meet there. And now both you and your buddy are rockin' the benefits of a winter workout!
5. Keep it Cozy. I’m one of those people who gets cold and stays cold in the winter, particularly when I’ve gotten all sweaty working out. Some of my tricks for not turning into an icicle after a workout: wear earmuffs, gloves, and warm boots on the way home, even if it’s not that cold; hop in the shower, or at least put on dry clothes, as soon as you get home; and enjoy some warm tea or soup to warm up your insides. Staying cozy takes some of the bite out of winter workouts!
6. Try Window Shopping. I just can’t bear the cold weather, so indoor activities are my best option. And although it might sound corny, mall walking could be just the thing to get you moving. There’s ample parking, the temperature is consistent, the walking surface isn’t slick, and there’s plenty to look at while you walk. Some malls even open early just to accommodate walkers, so check to see what the hours are at your local mall. No mall nearby? You can also walk in the big box stores like Target. Just stay away from the cookie displays!
7. Go for a Winter Sport. Maybe you don’t mind the cold so much. If so, try picking up a new winter sport. Cross Country skiing is excellent exercise, as is snow shoe-ing. No snow? Go for a winter hike and enjoy the beauty that is nature during the cold months. Regardless, make sure you're fully dressed for the weather, with layers, hand and face protection, and good shoes. You could even treat yourself to new warm things as a reward for getting out!
8. Get Playful. I think all of that winter sporty-ness sounds too much like work. If you agree, try thinking about playing outside in the winter, rather than working out. Go build a snowman, make snow angels, go ice skating (if the ice is solid enough). You’ll still burn plenty of calories and suck in some fresh air, but the change in mindset can be a real mood boost!
9. Plug In. In my part of the country, the temps get down into the single digits, and it’s hard to leave the house for much of anything. At times like this, working out to an exercise video makes for an excellent at-home option. Check out the options at your local library and try DVDs like aerobics, dance, kickboxing, or Pilates. You might find a new passion without even stepping outside the house!
Whichever of these options sounds like fun to you, I hope you'll try something this winter to keep active. We can't let the cold weather win, people!
Becky Eason, PhD, is an Associate Certified Coach and Certified Leadership Coach. She would love to come with you on your journey for wellness and a happy heart. Learn more on her website: wequestforwellness.com