Staying Fit During the Winter
When I was ten, temperatures in my hometown of Minneapolis sunk to a staggering -41° Fahrenheit. I've got to tell you, in those kinds of conditions there are not a lot of outdoor activities taking place. Nevertheless, Minneapolis has been ranked one of the top five most physically active cities in the United States. A growing number of Minnesotans are even commuting by bicycle in the dead of winter. Thankfully, you don't need to be that hard core to stay active during the cold winter months.
When the days get shorter and the weather takes a turn for the worse, it's easy to hang up the running shoes, retire the sporty clothes, put on a sweater, and simply hibernate. With some creativity and motivation, however, you can stay active despite the frosty weather.
Experts recommend 30 minutes of exercise (or more) most days of the week. Doing so not only helps keep us in the mindset of exercising and staying fit, but also helps us fight off the winter doldrums. The best part is that the 30 minutes doesn't have to be consecutive. You can break your workout into small chucks throughout the day. When facing a winter of potential inactivity, these small steps can make a big difference, both in your fitness level and your state of mind.
Not coincidentally, given winter temperatures, the first fully enclosed shopping mall was built in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina. Built in the 1950s, Southtown Centre apparently reflects the prevailing Upper Midwest mentality during cold months: "Forget this, I'm going inside!"
And go inside they did - the area now boasts the largest mall in the United States, the Mall of America. Which brings me to my point: malls are, essentially, temperature-controlled city streets. You can walk the mall like you do any other city street, and get plenty of exercise in the process. The Mall of America, for instance, is known for having a dedicated group of walking enthusiasts. By the time December hits, the majority of these walkers have dropped all pretenses of being there for shopping purposes. On the contrary, they are walking around in workout clothes and clutching bottles of water!
Other indoor workout activities involve getting a gym membership (of course), or even purchasing home exercise equipment. Many neighborhoods also have community centers with indoor basketball courts, exercise machines, and swimming pools.
Okay, so it's cold. We're all in this together, and we darn well better get used to it! Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can continue doing the activities you engaged in during balmier summer days. Also, as you explore your exercise options, plenty of new, winter-only activities are bound to present themselves. The first thing you'll need is the appropriate outdoor workout clothing. The second thing you'll need is the courage to brave the elements.
Winter walks: To help motivate yourself to get outdoors and stay active, you may want to organize community winter walks with others in your area. Many times, people want to get out and stay active, but the isolation of winter keeps them from doing so. By organizing a group of like-minded people and committing to bundling up and walking around a local neighborhood or park, you may find the exercise, and the conversation, refreshing.
Running: With a little effort, winter runners can enjoy what otherwise might be considered harsh conditions. By layering clothing appropriately, you can remain comfortable and, if you do warm up more than expected, can shed layers to cool off. With a multitude of high-tech fabrics out there, specialty running shops can help you pick out the gear that is most appropriate for your climate. They can also help you take the appropriate safety measures.
Winter-specific sports: Depending on winter conditions in your area, you may be able to conveniently incorporate winter sports into your workout routine. These sports may include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing on hiking trails, ice skating on public ice rinks, and many others.
Regardless of your fitness level, staying active despite cold weather conditions will help you shake off the winter blues and maintain your fitness level throughout the season.
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