8 Tips for Cold-Weather Cardio

Published: December 11th, 2013   |   Author: Jackie Gentilesco

Simple ways to stay active this season.

While chilly days may bring out your inner hermit, it's important to stay active! Using a fitness plan will help you get adequate exercise and prevent slacking off. 
Aim for 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise at least 5 days a week, as suggested by the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for adults. It’s okay to do your workout in bits and pieces, says Natalie Wessel, CSCS, a Portland-based fitness trainer. If it gets you moving, it’s good!  Try these eight, easy and entertaining ways to stay active all season long:

  1. Send a workout challenge.
    Start an email chain at your office or with friends to squeeze in exercise and practice your teamwork, Wessel suggests. Example challenges include: 10 pushups, squats, or lunges on the hour, every hour. “It’s a really fun way to build camaraderie and push everybody a little bit,” she says. “Really mix it up and make it fun.”

  3. Use commercials wisely.
    It’s time to redefine being a couch potato! During your favorite show, do crunches, dumbbell work, or yoga poses on commercial breaks. Working out in one, big bout can feel overwhelming, Wessel says. “Each commercial break, you take a bite of exercise. It seems easier compared to the thought of spending an hour outside,” she says.

  5. Keep equipment in plain view.
    “As we all know, if you put something away, you’re never going to use it,” Wessel says. The trick? “Turn your home into a gym,” she says. Keep equipment in the area where you spent most of your time, that way you’re ready to go.

  7. Join a group class.
    For winter workouts, join an outdoor cardio class to “suffer” together, Wessel says. Exchanging your favorite fuel foods and fitness tips with new friends will take the sting out of chilly weather.

  9. Walk the walk.
    Meatless Mondays may be a new addition to your family routine, so why not invent “Walking Wednesdays”? Take a brisk walk after dinner to point out surroundings, look at the starry sky, and spend quality time together, Wessel says.

  11. Dress the part.
    “The key to working out outdoors is learning how to dress in layers,” Wessel says. Cyclists, hikers, and joggers should especially look into non-cotton, poly-pro, or wool clothing (for an outer layer), she suggests. “Dress as if it’s 10-15 degrees warmer than it really is outside. Within 5-10 minutes you feel hot. It’s amazing.”

  13. Boycott your car.
    If you live in a bikeable city but haven’t pedaled since your training wheel days, search for classes in your area to learn how to ride a bike comfortably, Wessel suggests. This may not be as practical if you live somewhere really cold, but it’s a good reminder not to discount biking in winter. Doing some seasonal shopping? “As the holidays approach, park far away at the mall,” she suggests. Bonus: You’ll find a less-coveted parking spot, faster!

  15. Add intensity.
    Doing crunches during TV breaks and walking to work can help you stay fit and beat the winter blues. “You need to have the intensity for it to count,” Wessel says. You don’t have to be uncomfortable, but know that feeling out of breath and a bit sweaty is safe! Try this exercise (from Wessel): Say the Pledge of Allegiance while you work out; if it feels like you need some breaths in between each word, you’re doing it right.

Talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
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