Week 1 of 12 Weeks to a Healthy New Year
6 Criteria to consider when planning for regular winter workouts
A little brainstorming about winter workout criteria can help you come up with many options for staying active and feeling good through the holidays and during the cold, winter months. Don’t think of it as a burden, but problem solve it as a positive goal.
- Reliable access and regularity
- Incorporating work and chores
- Complementary exercises
- Indoors or outside
1. What are your honest goals for winter activity?
Before you can come up with a useful list of potential winter workout activities, it helps to know what your goals are? Do you want to maintain a certain level of stamina? Are you concerned about strength or flexibility deteriorating? Do you have a vacation coming up to be prepared for? Do you just want to make sure to burn some calories or make sure your blood gets some good circulation?
The more honest you are with yourself, the more likely it is that you will be motivated to follow through with your plans. And it is okay to have moderate goals. You are the one who can best evaluate how the holiday schedule has affected you in the past. It may be a good time to be less intense.
On the other hand, if you are ready to turn up your motor, go ahead! Take advantage of that energy and lack of other outside chores to focus on particular workout goals or body sculpting.
2. How often do you want to and how often can you?
It is also good to consider how regularly you could do a certain activity or how it will balance with other activity choices. Skiing may be great once in a while, but unless you live on the slopes, it cannot be the backbone of your routine. Shoveling the driveway is a challenging upper body workout, but the weather is an unreliable supplier of snow.
This will tie in with some of the criteria below. The key is to think about how likely it really is that you can exercise a certain way. I know I can run pretty regularly during the winter. I can also swim easily because I have a winterized pool set-up. I like to dance, but it is much less likely that will happen more than once a month.
3. How can work be incorporated into exercise?
Work activities can be added to the list if they can be done in a certain way. Vacuuming can be done more energetically. Fall yard clean up is an opportunity for a lot of walking, lifting, and loading.
I have not tried FitBits, but from what I know they could be a way to help nicely mix work and exercise. However, one thing I have noticed is that work activities can tend to asymmetrical or repetitive in ways that need to be compensated for. Also, some jobs can have quality affected if done too fast or with the emphasis on exercise. My example of vacuuming has limits because if you vacuum too fast, the machine doesn’t have time to suction up dirt.
4. Why complementary activities are important
Another consideration is how various activities complement each other. One exercise may provide a foundation of ability for a less frequent activity. Another exercise may develop strength and/or balance that prevents injury. Yet another exercise may work out the kinks of more vigorous activities.
It seems obvious that you risk injury if
- you over use a body part
- don’t let it recuperate between workouts
- engage in an activity far beyond your current strength level
Unfortunately, it is easy to disregard these facts when presented with an opportunity or when frustrated with schedule complications. If you know you are likely to dance for hours when there is music playing, you should probably have a regular exercise that builds your body up for that. If you want to have the core strength to carry that elk or deer for miles in the snow, then you should do some regular weight lifting.
5. How important is it whether you are inside or outside?
One of the obvious choices is whether to be indoors or outside. Some people swear by being outdoors, but in many parts of the world there are times when outside is not an option. It might be typhoons or it might be waist high snow. Having at least one indoor option can be good for the soul.
For me, outside can seem quite preferable… until it is pouring rain and blowing wind. Then, I am very happy that I have a spin bike in the basement and a TRX strap on the bedroom door. It is no use to wish for sunshine that isn’t there or imminent. It is much better to feel satisfied that I at least got some much needed exercise.
6. Availability of equipment can make a big difference
How important is it that you leave the house to exercise, such as going to a gym or class? If you invest in a little bit of equipment at home, it can save you time and open up possibilities for being active. I know some people swear by the gym vibe, but having even just a few things at home can ease your mind on certain days.
Equipment can be anything from the above mentioned spin bike to a small set of barbells to a yoga mat. I would probably also add workout videos to that, especially if the group setting inspires you.
Just having the equipment is only part of the equation. You also need to have it stored someplace easily accessible, space to make use of it, and the motivation for necessary maintenance. Something like a TRX basically never needs maintenance, but my swimming pool has benefited from my engineer’s problem solving. Don’t short change your capacity to learn to take care of equipment, but maybe don’t overload yourself with too many new things to learn to take care of either.
Laugh all the way through winter, because you have the stamina to
Humor about winter eating and couch potato habits may be diverting, but the feeling you will get from having regularly exercised over the winter is much longer lasting. Get those belly laughs in, because they are good for body and soul, but don’t let supposed holiday norms be your guide to working out during this time. Feeling physically healthy is good for the soul, too.