If you’ve been enjoying outdoor activities this spring and summer, you may be wondering how to stay fit in the winter months when most physical activity is forced indoors. If you don’t enjoy going to the gym, you may find it challenging to come up with new ways to stay fit during winter.
American adults gain an average of five to seven pounds during the winter months, partly due to increased calorie consumption and partly due to the lack of exercise. It’s challenging to stay fit when the sun rises later, it gets dark early, and the weather is often inclement. Use these tips and helpful tools to stay in a healthy weight range that is best for you.
1) Take up planking
Planking involves holding a push-up-like position for as long as possible. It doesn’t require any equipment, and it only takes a few minutes a day to get the maximum benefit.
To perform a plank, lay with your stomach on the ground. Place your arms underneath your shoulders and push upward, flexing your feet so that only your toes are on the ground. Refrain from going into an arched position by focusing on keeping your bottom parallel with the ground.
For more of a challenge, you can switch from having your hands on the ground to your forearms in a lower plank position. Hold this position for one to three minutes, or as long as you can maintain good form.
In addition to burning calories, planking strengthens your core, tones your arms and legs, and improves your posture. (Click here for an easy five-minute planking workout!)
2) Do your own housekeeping
We know life is busy and household chores like vacuuming and mopping are easy to ignore or outsource to paid cleaning professionals.
Living in a clean home has positive psychological effects because it decreases stress and makes it easier for you and your family to relax. Doing your own household chores isn’t just satisfying; it can also be an excellent way to stay fit during winter.
Cleaning offers several health benefits. It decreases household germs, helping you and your loved ones stay healthy. It also burns calories. Mopping and vacuuming can burn around 170 calories per hour. Add in dusting, folding laundry, ironing, and watering plants, and in a short time, you can burn as many calories as you would have at the gym. To minimize the number of toxic cleaning products in your home, check out this natural surface cleaner for a healthy house!
3) Go to the mall
If you generally avoid the mall, winter may be a perfect time to reconsider your feelings as you’re thinking about how to stay active in the winter. The mall is one of the best places to get your 10,000 steps a day when it’s too cold to be outside — and it's free.
For a person who weighs 200 pounds, walking at a 4-mph pace can burn 340 calories! For the most benefit, avoid high-calorie temptations at the food court, and leave your credit cards at home if you’re tempted to “exercise” your wallet too much.
4) Take the stairs
The stairs can’t replace a full-body workout, but they do offer another opportunity for movement. Whether you’re at the airport, the office, a parking garage or your apartment, choosing to take the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator can have big benefits! Stair climbing improves cardiovascular health and tones your calf and thigh muscles. It burns calories, too (a person weighing 175 pounds burns 21 calories climbing stairs for two minutes.)
In addition to climbing the stairs in the course of everyday activities, consider doing a stair-climbing workout during your lunch break or during your kids’ after-school activities to reap even more fitness rewards! Staying active will also help you prevent common winter injuries from other activities like shoveling.
5) Play fitness video games
Video games aren’t commonly associated with exercise, but fitness games offer a relatively inexpensive and fun way to stay fit during winter. Make fitness a family affair by challenging family members to play with you. Whether you’re virtually dancing, running, cycling or racing through an obstacle course, you can burn calories together while avoiding inclement weather and gym fees, and enjoying family time.
7) Workout Online
Over the last few years, there has been a stark increase in the number of online and on-demand workouts available. If you’re not keen on joining a gym or meeting up with others for a winter workout, consider online workouts. There are many free options as well as subscription programs.
Certified personal trainers lead many online workout programs with plenty of modifications if you need them. Plus, many of them are available 24/7. Enjoy workouts in the comfort of your own home without having to layer up and head outside.
8) Outdoor Winter Activities
If you’re a fan of skiing, snowboarding or snow-shoeing, these activities are more than just fun — they’re great ways to exercise!
Winter activities exercise both your mind and body. They’re sure to leave you with sore muscles the next day as an indication of your hard work. In fact, a 125-pound person could burn up to 500 calories per hour snow-shoeing. Remember that even though it’s cold outside, drinking water during these activities is important to prevent dehydration.
9) Sign Up for a Dance Class
Dancing isn’t just for formal events or recitals. It’s a great way to stay fit during winter and increase flexibility and agility. And you can do it all in the comfort of a warm indoor space. Dancing also provides a good opportunity to socialize, which is beneficial for your mental health (and can be especially challenging in the cold months).
Whether you’re interested in hip-hop, ballroom dancing, waltz, ballet, jazz or line dancing, the average person can burn up to 300-800 calories per hour this way.
Benefits of Staying Fit
During the winter, it understandably can become harder to be physically active. The harsh winter months can make anyone want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and some comfort food.
However, finding ways to stay fit during winter is important. Exercise helps support your mental health as well as your physical health. Movement increases endorphins that help improve your mood. Additionally, physical fitness is good for your heart health, helps support healthy weight management and gets your blood pumping to help keep you warm. Exercise also supports immune health, especially when exposure to germs is much higher in the winter.
Furthermore, by staying active in the winter, you won’t feel like you have to suddenly play catch-up with your fitness routine in the spring.
Visit GoHealth Urgent Care
Our goal is to help our patients stay as healthy and happy as possible all year long! We’re open seven days a week to care for you, snow or shine. If you have a minor injury or illness, don’t put off getting the care you need. We offer an easy check-in process and online registration. Just walk in or save your spot online.
If you need help assessing and treating common winter health concerns, come see the experts at GoHealth Urgent Care. You can walk in without an appointment, or you can check in online. We’ll have you back to feeling better in no time.
Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant