Winter. The season when it seems that everything is conspiring against you and your fitness goals.
You feel sleepier, hungrier, lazier, and less motivated.
But all is not bleak.
Did you know that exercising in the cold helps your body burn more calories than in the summer? Not only that, cold weather makes you exercise more efficiently and increases your endurance, as there is not much stress on your heart, you don’t sweat excessively and you use less energy!
So, are you ready to find out our best tips on how to stay fit this winter and get that banging summer body you always wanted?
Read on, my friend!
Firstly, let’s talk about…
Why is it hard to work out in winter?
What is it about winter that makes us want to snuggle under our bed covers and go into hibernation mode?
1. Your Vitamin-D levels dip
Turns out the higher the Vitamin- D levels in your body, the better your cardiorespiratory fitness (the ability of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen to the muscles during exercise) and thus the better your exercise capacity. Since sunlight is scarce during the winters, down goes our Vitamin D and fitness levels.
2. Your muscle function reduces
During winter, your muscles lose more heat and contract, your joints get tighter and your whole body feels stiff. Your muscles have to work a lot harder to perform the same tasks that you could do so easily in warmer temperatures.
The cold weather also slows down the nerve impulses in your body. This means it takes longer for your brain to tell your body what you want it to do.
8 Exercises to Do During Winter To Stay Fit
Indoor winter exercises
Want to get that toned summer body without any equipment at all? HIIT is your best bet!
HIIT is the perfect way to exercise when you’re crunched for time. HIIT is known to burn 25 to 30% more calories than other types of exercise, can improve your VO2 max, reduce your blood pressure and so much more.
To create a HIIT at-home routine, you could choose 8-10 exercises (including a few plyometric moves like star jumps and burpees) with 20-30 seconds per move, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Try to do 3 circuits.
Here’s a no-excuses 4-minute Tabata HIIT workout.
Check out this 30-minute HIIT workout (includes warm-up and cool-down).
2. Exercises with equipment
Sure, your body is all you need to get a good workout in. But just by investing in a few versatile (and affordable) fitness gear, you can get one step closer to your summer body!
Take the jump rope, for instance. In just 15 minutes, you can burn around 200-300 calories (depending on the intensity). You can also incorporate a skipping rope into your HIIT routine or use it as a warm-up tool.
Check out a few beginner-friendly jump rope workouts here.
Now, let’s talk resistance bands. They are the perfect way to strength train minus all the heavyweights. You could use them to assist you in your pull-ups, stretching and mobility exercises, full-body toning workouts, and even to make your regular bodyweight moves more challenging (think banded squats and push-ups).
Here are some kick-ass resistance band exercises for beginners.
Get this. People who dance are 46% less likely to develop heart disease or die from it than nondancers!
Here’s an awesome dance cardio workout to kick those winter blues to the curb!
You might also like: 12 Simple But Effective At-Home Body Toning Exercises For Women
4. Yoga and Pilates
Remember how we said the cold weather makes your muscles and joints stiff? Well, lucky for us we have Yoga and Pilates.
Both Yoga and Pilates help in warming up your muscles and joints, reduce stiffness and cramping, improve your flexibility and mobility, and help you avoid injury.
Need more reasons to grab a Yoga mat? Yoga, specifically Pranayama (breathing exercises), is excellent in clearing chest congestion (which is all too common during the winters) and can also aid in improving your immunity.
Here’s a Yoga routine that you can try at home.
Check out this Pilates workout for beginners here.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who know how to swim, then head to an indoor swimming pool this winter.
Swimming is a terrific way to burn some calories without getting fatigued too fast. Plus it causes your muscles and joints to relax, reduces stress, improves your strength, and improves circulation. All excellent for your body especially during the winter.
6. Stair climbing
Want a killer lower-body workout that combines both cardio and strength? Just hit the stairs!
As per the Harvard Alumni Health Study, climbing 10-19 flights a week (2-4 flights per day) reduces mortality risk. Not just that, taking the stairs can also improve your blood pressure, aerobic fitness, gait, and balance, aid in weight loss, and many more.
Stair climbing is doubly awesome because while your descent counts as a moderate-intensity activity, your ascent would be a vigorous-intensity workout.
Related: How To Set Up A Home Gym For Cardio?
Outdoor winter exercises
If you’re feeling adventurous enough to brave the cold conditions, head outside and try these activities.
7. Brisk Walking
Walking outside is great for so many reasons. The fresh air and sunshine do wonders to ward away your winter blues and lift your mood. Plus you’ll get your daily dose of Vitamin D.
Exposing yourself to cold weather also boosts your immunity and thus reduces your chances of contracting colds and other illnesses.
Studies also show that walking with a group of people can improve your cholesterol, blood pressure, and more. Now that’s a good reason to call up your buddies and walk off those pounds together!
While most of us would rather run indoors on a treadmill during the winter, here are a few reasons for you to run outside.
- It is easier to run outside in cold weather rather than in warm summers as there is less heat stress on the body.
- Research shows that runners have a 25 to 40 percent reduced risk of premature mortality.
- Your metabolism slows down in the winter as your body tries to conserve its fat stores. Running can prevent that and thus helps you maintain a healthy weight.
- Running in cold weather could also help change your body composition. Research shows that exposure to cold weather can convert your white fat cells (cells that store fat) to brown fat cells (cells that burn calories).
You might also like: Gym Vs Home Workout: Which Is The Best For You?
Safety tips for outdoor exercising in the winter
Here are a few precautions to take while exercising outdoors during the winter.
1. Dress in appropriate layers
Depending on the weather and the type of exercise you plan to do, wear 2 to 3 layers that you can easily remove and wear again, as required.
- The first layer should be a sweat-wicking fabric such as polypropylene.
- The 2nd layer can be fleece or wool for insulation.
- The 3rd layer should be waterproof and breathable.
2. Stay hydrated
During the cold season, you feel less thirsty due to your blood vessels constricting (this happens to keep your core warm). So ensure that you drink enough water before, during, and after your workouts.
3. Don’t skip your warm-up
Since your muscles tighten up during the cold season, your chances of injury are much higher. That’s why skipping your warm-up is an absolute NO-NO!
Avoid static stretches as they could increase your risk of injury. Include dynamic stretches that loosen your joints such as arm circles, hip circles, lunges, and squats.
5 Secret Tips To Stay Fit In Winter
1. Stick to a healthy diet
Here are some healthy winter foods that you should include in your diet.
- Root veggies such as carrots, beetroot, sweet potatoes, and yams for your dose of Vitamin A, C, and beta-carotene.
- Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids including fatty fish (salmon, sardines), seeds (flax, chia), walnuts, soybean oil, etc. to lower joint pains and stiffness.
- Millets like ragi, and bajra for essential vitamins and minerals.
- Heat-producing foods such as dry fruits, ginger, cinnamon, and saffron.
- Foods rich in zinc and iron such as red meat, beans, dairy products, broccoli, spinach, chickpeas, etc. to increase your immunity.
Avoid foods such as
- Deep-fried foods
- Cold aerated drinks and sugary beverages
- Processed foods
2. Eat smaller and more frequent meals
Instead of eating 3 heavy meals a day, try to eat smaller quantities after shorter intervals. This will help regulate your energy levels throughout the day and put an end to those sugar cravings.
3. Get enough sleep
Sleep helps boost your immunity, reduce your stress hormones, regulate your appetite and weight, and more. So ensure that you get around 7-10 hours of sleep every night.
4. Get a workout buddy
Finding the motivation to work out during the winter is extra hard. But not if you have a workout buddy who is a fitness freak!
Set a time with your friend to work out in the gym, do an indoor Yoga session at your house, or do a quick jog in a nearby park. This way you’re less likely to skip your exercise sessions.
5. Work out during lunch hours
If early mornings or late evenings are just too cold for you to handle, then try exercising in the afternoons. You could squeeze in a quick 15 to 20-minute HIIT session or go for a brisk walk around your office.
As you can see, working out in the winter doesn’t have to be hard. Just choose an activity that you like and stick to it. The results will follow.
Which workout would you prefer doing this winter? Let us know in the comments below!