It’s always difficult to get exercise in the winter, but with people steering clear of gyms because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year will be even trickier. Yet, tempting as it may be, this winter shouldn’t be spent vegging out until spring comes. Staying active year round will reduce risk of heart attack, improve overall mood, and strengthen your joints, muscles and bones.
With that in mind, here are five tips to stay active this winter.
Practice Yoga for Overall Fitness
What makes this ancient practice special is that it targets the body and the mind. Practicing yoga will make you more physically fit and, with its breathing and meditation components, will also improve your mental well-being—a factor that’s especially important in the midst of a pandemic.
All you need is a mat, a little bit of space to stretch out, and breathable clothing. Not sure where to start? There are countless free yoga lessons online, from beginner level to advanced. If you want to do research before diving in, check out sites like Yoga Basics and Yoga Journal, which offer a comprehensive overview of the discipline.
Work with Free Weights
You don’t need an expensive home gym or a membership for strength training. All you need to pump iron at home are free weights such as dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells. At-home video workout series take advantage of these pieces of equipment, and there are entire workout routines that use just free weights.
Free weights work your body differently than machines—for example, dumbbell exercises work more muscles at a time than machines do—but they still provide an excellent workout.
Before you start training with weights, consult with a physical therapist to determine what weights to start with, and what types of workouts are right for you.
Do Bodyweight Training
Don’t have weights at home? Take advantage of bodyweight exercises, which use only your body as resistance. Exercises such as squats, lunges, abdominal crunches, pushups, mountain climbers and jumping jacks are all effective calorie burners and muscle builders that take little space to complete and don’t require any equipment. There are hundreds of bodyweight exercises to choose from, but there are guides to help you get started.
Get Up and Dance
What better way to get active and have fun at the same time? According to a study by Harvard Health Publishing, dancing can actually burn hundreds of calories an hour, depending on the type of dance.
If you want to push yourself, try virtual Zumba classes. Zumba is a dance fitness program that features upbeat, high-energy dance choreography designed to burn calories.
Take a Jog or Walk
If you’re OK with braving the cold, a jog or a walk is a low-maintenance, socially distant way to stay active. Just be sure to dress appropriately for the occasion: A winter jogger’s trick is to dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer than it actually is so that you aren’t overheating once you’ve warmed up. Depending on how cold it is, that could still mean wearing multiple layers, long sleeves, mittens or a hat. Start your session by warming up indoors with simple stretches, as stretching can improve performance during physical activities, increase blood flow to your muscles, and helps prevent injury during exercise.