Top 5 Winter Workouts: Stay Fit, Stay Warm
It’s not exactly the perfect weather outside to do laps in your outdoor pool or head to the park for a game of soccer. It’s cold, dreary and frozen over – certainly not enjoyable for outdoor sports, no matter how much of a winter lover you may be. You may the kind of person who also likes a good morning workout before work – but in the winter, it’s still dark outside, and nothing compares to your nice warm bed, so it’s difficult to be motivated enough to get up for that workout.
Plus, it’s also the cold and flu season – and if you’re like most people, all you want to do is curl up in bed with a hot cup of tea or soup and feel sorry for yourself. So how can you encourage yourself to get moving this winter, when the weather won’t co-operate, you’re feeling cold, and you can’t stop sneezing?
The trick is to find indoor workout moves or sports that help you keep up your exercise routine, but are not too difficult, since you may not be feeling your best.
Start with these slowly and only do a few at a time, and keep adding more as you build up a resistance to them. By the time summer rolls around, you’ll be in such great shape you’ll wish it were winter all year ‘round! (Well, maybe not quite. Nothing beats a cold pool on a hot summer’s day. But you’ll definitely thank me for these moves to help get you through these next few months.)
Unlike walking the plank, this exercise is not dangerous unless you do it over a canyon. It’s one of the most basic exercises in a workout, and you can suit the time limit to your endurance.
- Start in a relaxed pushup position (your body straight, hands just a little further apart than your shoulders).
- Push you body into a pushup position. This means your toes should be gripping the floor, your body should be a straight, tight, diagonal line, and your arms should be straight and equally supporting your weight.
- Your knees should not be locked, and your spine should be relaxed. Stare at a spot around a foot in front of you (but let’s face it, you’re more likely to be watching your timer).
There are other variations of the plank, but this is the most common one.
2. Push Up
I used to associate push ups with some kind of army or jail torture (“DROP AND GIVE ME THIRTY!!!”) but they’re actually a great idea to get your muscles in shape. You don’t need to torture yourself either – give yourself a reasonable limit within your workout, then gradually increase that limit with time, as your muscles get used to the exercise.
- Start on the ground or an exercise mat with your feet at a comfortable distance apart (as close together or as wide apart as you prefer) and your hands beneath, but slightly further apart than your shoulders.
- Your body should be a straight, tight line, and your arms should be tight and straight, equally supporting your weight.
- Keeping your body straight and tight, gently lower yourself to the ground, until your elbows are at least forming 90-degree angles (or keep going, if you can).
- Hold the position for a couple of second and then push yourself back up to your plank position.
The squat is perfect for winter because you don’t need a lot of space (so if you’re living in a matchbox apartment, that’s no excuse not to exercise). It works out so many muscles in every part of your body and is just the thing to wake you up on a cold winter morning.
- Stand with your feet a little further apart than your hips and your toes pointing slightly outward.
- Stick your hands out straight in front of you and keep your spine relaxed but straight.
- Stare straight ahead at a certain spot, and keep your eyes on this spot throughout.
- Gently bend your knees while keeping them as outward as your toes are and push your hips backwards. Your heels and the balls of your feet should be supporting your weight.
- When your hip joint is lower than your knees, you’ve done a full squat.
- Keeping your body tight, gently ease back up into your standing position.
You can do these while stationary, but it’s a lot more fun to do them down a long hallway. If you don’t have room, your own small space will do.
- Start with your feet apart, in line with your hips.
- Focus your weight on your heels, and keep your spine straight while taking a step forward with your right leg.
- Lower your body until your lunge leg is making a 90-degree angle, and your knee is in line with your ankle.
- If you’re doing this in one place, gently reverse into your original standing position while keeping your back straight, and then repeat the above steps using your left leg. If you’re doing walking lunges, don’t stand back up, but take a big step forward with your left leg and repeat the lunge exercise.
Before you protest that it’s too cold outside and that you don’t have room to run in your house or afore-mentioned matchbox apartment, calm down. This one is jogging on the spot as opposed to its own workout. You only need the space your standing in, and you don’t have to pay for a treadmill.
- Start jogging on the spot, while keeping your back straight.
- Bring your knees as high as you can as you run – the higher you bring them, the better the stretch.
- Keep going until your timer stops. Over time, increase the height of your jogs and the length of the exercise.
So that’s it, folks. You don’t have to be depressed because your house is snowed in and you can’t get to the gym – with a little bit of effort, you can work out right in the comfort of your home. If these are too easy for you, try doing the exercises for longer or making them slightly more challenging, such as bringing your knees to your arms when doing the running, or deepening your squat. Good luck!