7 WAYS TO STAY FIT IN THE WINTER

With the changing of the seasons comes the inevitable end to your outdoor workouts. This can be a daunting realization, especially if you’re trying to avoid the gym. So how do you move outdoor exercise indoors? (Read This: Becoming a Badass with Bodyweight Workouts)

Fortunately, plenty of fitness pros before you have had to face the same challenge, and they came out just as fit when spring rolled around. The same dedication you show now will be required, but your workouts will be just as rewarding, both mentally and physically.

Here are 7 of the best ways to stay in shape, even when it’s freezing, snowing or raining outside.

1. Take the Stairs

Chances are, your outdoor summer workouts incorporated lots of cardio. It’s easy to do cardio outside. You can run, cycle, skate, swim, surf, hike, play beach volleyball — the possibilities are pretty much endless.

Once it’s cold, though, these activities become much less enjoyable, and you might find yourself skimping on heart-pumping cardio, despite the benefits regular cardio workouts can have. This winter will be different, though, once you take your workouts to the stairs.

Whether you have a multi-story house or live in an apartment building, you probably have at-home access to stairs. Simply taking the stairs – especially if you live in a top-level apartment – can fire up your legs and get your heart racing. If you only have one set of stairs, running up and walking back down can be a great interval-training exercise.

If that’s too easy – it might become that way with practice, too – try sprinting up the stairs, taking every other step, or doing a set of jumping jacks once you reach the top. We promise, you will be sweating by the end.

2. Build a Home Gym

Don’t worry. Outfitting your home with its own gym won’t cost you an arm and a leg. In fact, with careful planning and purchasing, you might find this to be incredibly budget-friendly — and a resource you use year-round.

Everyone’s home gym will have to have different equipment, it’s essential to choose a corner or room where you can install a mirror. It’s the most important part of your at-home gym because it allows you to watch yourself and make sure each rep is done with the proper technique so you avoid injury or strain.

Once that’s finished, think about the way you exercise. A high-intensity interval training workout might require that you only have a mat. Weight-lifting routines will, of course, require various dumbbells and perhaps a bench or stability ball. Exercise bands are also a cheap option to provide resistance for muscle-toning moves. With just a few investments — weights, mat, bench — you probably wouldn’t even set yourself back as much as a year-long gym membership would cost.  You can even use things that you may already have, like gallon-jugs for weights.

3. Pop in a Workout DVD

Hear us out: Workout DVDs are no longer what they used to be. You won’t have to don a leotard and keep up with an 80s aerobics instructor. Instead, you can get some a great toning or high-intensity cardio workout all with a disc.

There are several tried-and-tested DVDs deemed great for men who want to work out at home, so you don’t have to go with a trial-and-error approach to your fitness routine. Instead, you can rest assured that what you buy will help you stay in shape until you’re able to exercise outside again.

4. Sign up for Indoor Sports

Like we said before, summertime is a great excuse to get outside and play team sports. Whether you took up basketball, football, soccer or the aforementioned volleyball, you found the exercise to be way more fun than a gym workout. Group sports incorporate a social element that can improve your mental health, too.

Joining an indoor sports league is just as rewarding. Just like in summer leagues, you can choose a team based on your skill level and the amount of competitiveness you want. That way, you can ensure your practices and games will be workouts, just like they were in summer.

The same goes for group fitness sessions. Chances are, there’s more offered than just aerobics, Zumba and other cardio-heavy classes you tend to associate with group fitness. Weight-lifting classes are common, as well as high-intensity cycling and CrossFit.

5. Sprint Through the Snow

Okay, so sprinting in the snow might not be possible. But winter’s most notable precipitation creates just the right amount of resistance for an intense workout.

Once snow has fallen, put on a pair of shoes that’ll withstand the flakes, like hiking shoes or water-repellent sneakers. Then, head out to your yard, sidewalk or another flat area where there’s plenty of snow on the ground. After that, it’s up to you how you take advantage of its natural resistance. Walk, run, sprint, lunge, jump — choose one or make your own combination for a killer leg workout. Just don’t be like this famous girl who brags about her snow running skills before an instant-karma fall.

6. Take Care of Your Home

Your outdoor workouts might end in the fall, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some exercise outdoors. Grab a rake and get rid of all of those leaves that have fallen on your lawn. And, as soon as it starts snowing, you can get another great cardio workout by shoveling snow from your driveway and sidewalks, too. If you want an extra sweat session, volunteer your services to neighbors as well.

On top of that, you can break a sweat by completing chores on your honey-do list — seriously. Vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing floors — all of these housekeeping activities will burn calories and keep your significant other happy. To us, that sounds like a win-win.

7. Learn How to Do Your Outdoor Workout in Winter

If none of the above options compare to your summer workout, then you’ll just have to compromise and learn how to enjoy cold-weather workouts as much as you did the summer ones. It’s not that difficult to do, either, so long as you prepare yourself both mentally and physically.

There are plenty of tips for those looking to partake in outdoor workouts in winter. Start by layering up your clothes so that you’re warm enough at the start, but able to shed a pullover, for example, if you get too hot. You should also research how your body would react if you got too cold so that you could head indoors and prevent hypothermia, frostbite, etc.

No matter what you do, winter doesn’t have to be a time you dread as a fitness enthusiast. Instead, you can have just as intense workouts when it’s cold if you find the activity that fires you up even on the chilliest days of the year.

About the Author

Scott Huntington is a writter from Harrisburg, PA. He covers cars, sports, fitness, and everything in between. Find his work on Forbes, INC, Yahoo Autos, or his own blog, Off The Throttle. Or say hi on Twitter @SMHuntington.