keeping fit in the winter

Best Tips for Keeping Fit in the Winter

Trying to stay fit during the winter can be a challenge. Certain outdoor activities may be significantly less appealing, and may even become unsafe as the temperature falls, roads get icy, or snow covers your city.

Luckily, there are other ways to keep up with an exercise routine during the colder months. While it may involve activities that you wouldn’t normally try, it can be a fun break from your typical exercise plan. Plus, a little variety can be incredibly beneficial, allowing you to use your muscles in new ways and engage your brain with an exciting new regiment.

If you want to make sure you stay on top of your exercise during colder months, here are some of the best tips for keeping fit this winter.

Give Yoga a Try

Yoga can be an incredible workout. When done slowly, it can be highly meditative and relaxing. Plus, maintaining poses requires a significant amount of strength, putting your muscles to the test, and you get to stretch along the way too.

However, an intense yoga session can also stand in for moderate-intensity cardio. By flowing through the poses at a decent pace, you can get your heart rate up too.

Another benefit of yoga is that it doesn’t take much space to do. Usually, a six-foot by four-foot space is more than plenty, and you may be able to get away with less depending on your size.

If the pace of yoga is appealing, but not the activity itself, then you might want to consider Tai Chi instead. It has its roots in martial arts but focuses on slower movements coupled with deep breathing techniques. Not only is it very low impact and slightly meditative, but it can also improve cardiovascular health.

winter fitness activities

Explore Running Alternatives

If you can’t imagine getting through your day without making time for a run, bad winter weather can be a damper on your day. On a good note, there are running alternatives that can give you a proper burn without having to venture outside, even if you only have a small space for your workout.

Jumping jacks, stair climbing, mountain climbers, high knees, and jumping rope can all be great options on days you can’t head out on a run. If you want to get in a full-body workout, burpees can really put you to the test, all without any equipment.

Play in the Snow

Running around in the snow with your children or pets is usually a pretty intense workout. Snow increases the difficulty of just walking around, and a snowball fight can be incredibly vigorous.

Building a snowman or snow fort is also surprisingly physical. Making a few snow angels can also get your blood pumping. Consider any childhood snow-related activity and invite your kids to do it with you. Not only will it serve as a workout but it’s also a great bonding experience, making it physically challenging fun for the whole family.

stay fit in winter

Calisthenics

Classic calisthenics (body weight exercises) are still staples for a reason. Plus, you don’t need much room to do them, with many taking less than a six-foot by three-foot space to do effectively.

Push-ups, crunches, planks, squats, leg lifts, calf raises, and lunges are all excellent choices. If you have access to a stable chair, a few chair dips are also great additions.

Sign Up for Classes

If working out at home isn’t your cup of tea, then signing up for a class or two might give you the motivation you need to keep fit this winter. You can either look for alternatives to your favorite outdoor activities – like a spin class for bicycling enthusiasts – or try something new to shake things up a bit.

Anything from Zumba to indoor fitness boot camps can do the trick, so put them all on the table and see what catches your eye. You may incidentally discover that you love dance, boxing, or nearly anything else along the way, giving you a new activity that you can do all winter, and potentially beyond. 

Try a Gym

A well-appointed gym can be a lifesaver during the winter. Along with basic equipment, like treadmills and weight machines, some also have other features, including indoor heated pools, racquetball courts, indoor rock climbing, basketball courts, and more.

By signing up with a gym, you have access to all of the equipment you may need. Plus, the financial component may help keep you motivated, as practically no one likes to feel as if they are wasting money on a membership they aren’t using.

winter fitness

Give Ice Skating a Whirl

Ice skating is a classic winter activity, and it isn’t just for children. Putting on some skates and heading onto the ice can be a great workout, letting you tone your lower body and core. Plus, if you maintain a moderate pace, you can burn hundreds of calories an hour and improve your cardiovascular fitness.

While winter is certainly the time for ice skating outdoors, many larger cities also have indoor rinks, allowing you to enjoy the activity without experiencing the worst of the cold.

Ways to Boost Your Physical Activity

Let’s face facts; most people are pretty busy. Squeezing a regular exercise routine into an already jam-packed schedule isn’t always an option, so finding ways to boost your physical activity in ways that won’t disrupt your day is often ideal.

Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to get more active without having to alter your day-to-day significantly. If you want to boost your physical activity, here’s what you need to know.

What to Do Before You Increase Your Activity Levels

Before you change your routine to include more physical activity, it’s wise to speak with your doctor. This gives you a chance to discuss your plan with a healthcare professional who can make sure that what you are about to start is safe for you.

Ways to Boost Your Physical Activity at Home

While you can always through on an exercise DVD or YouTube video, that might not work for anyone who can’t dedicate 30 minutes straight to working out. Thankfully, adding some physical activity to your time at home can be a breeze, even if you are typically pressed for time.

If you want to boost your physical activity at home, here are some simple options to get you started.

  • Use an exercise bike or treadmill when watching television
  • Do crunches or pushups during tv commercial breaks
  • Take a 10-minute walk before breakfast or in the evening
  • Head outside with your children and play
  • Take your kids out on a bike ride
  • Walk your dog
  • Do squats while microwaving a meal or beverage or when waiting for water to boil on the stove
  • Do some calf raises while washing your face at the sink or brushing your teeth
  • Plant and maintain a garden
  • Turn on some music and dance while cleaning
  • Handwash your car
  • Rake leaves or shovel snow instead of using a leaf or snowblower
  • Use a push mower when cutting the grass
  • Help your children practice their sports skills at home
  • Walk around while talking on the phone
  • Clean out your garage, attic, or other storage spaces

Ways to Boost Your Physical Activity at Work

Usually, work isn’t the ideal place for a big workout. But, unless you are in a particularly active job, it commonly means being mostly sedentary for eight to 10 hours, and that isn’t great either.

While it may come as a surprise, there are a number of ways to add some additional physical activity to your workday that don’t take a lot of time and won’t result in a ton of weird looks from your coworkers. Here are some options that definitely worth exploring.

  • Skip the elevator and take the stairs instead
  • Park farther away from your workplace
  • Walk during your lunch break
  • Bike or walk to work
  • Hop off the bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way
  • Replace your desk chair with an exercise ball
  • Try “walking meetings” instead of sitting in a conference room
  • Bring hand weights to work and do simple bicep curls or tricep exercises whenever you get on the phone
  • When you head to the restroom, choose one that is farther away from your workstation
  • Deliver a message to a coworker in-person instead of by email, phone, or instant/text message
  • Use a standing desk

Ways to Boost Your Physical Activity While on the Go

Many people spend quite a few hours each week outside of the workplace and home. Whether it’s a trip to the grocery store, picking up your children from school, or managing various errands, it may not have occurred to you that you can make this time more active.

Here is a quick look at some easy ways to boost your activity while you are on the go.

  • Park further away from the store entrance
  • Walk the sidelines when your children are playing sports
  • If you stay overnight in a hotel, bring exercise bands with you or use the hotel’s gym or pool
  • Do bicep curls while carrying shopping bags
  • Add a physical activity to your vacation plans (skiing, hiking, kayaking, etc.)
  • Do seated crunches when you stop at a red light while driving
  • Skip the drive-thru and walk inside instead
  • Head to a museum, gallery, zoo, or aquarium instead of a movie theater for an active entertainment experience
  • If you take the bus, stand instead of sitting

Ultimately, all of the options above can help you squeeze more physical activity into your day no matter where it takes you. Just make sure to speak with a healthcare professional before you begin, consider starting slow if you haven’t exercised in some time, listen to your body, and be patient with yourself. It takes time for real change to be realized, but you are taking an important first step. Plus, if you keep your eyes open, you may spot other opportunities to add more physical activity to your day, ensuring you can maintain your schedule and support your health.

Best Free and Paid Fitness Trackers

Best Free and Paid Fitness Trackers

Whether your New Year’s resolution was to get in shape or lose weight, or you were spontaneously inspired to strive for better health, having a fitness tracker can make a world of difference. These handy apps and devices make it easy to track your diet and workouts, ensuring you can monitor your progress and access information that will help you achieve success.

Best Fitness Tracker Devices

Let’s face it; people love devices. There are tons of fitness tracker devices on the market today, but they don’t all offer the same level of experience. If you are ready to try a fitness tracker, here are some of the best.

Moov Now

If you are looking for an accurate fitness tracker at a price you can afford, then the Moov Now might be right up your alley. It doesn’t come with a screen and definitely isn’t pretty, but it does have exceptional battery life and can track a wide range of activities, including running, swimming, and even boxing.

Plus, the companion app has a few decent workouts, but the HIIT could use a bit more variety. However, the workout tracking blows the competition out of the water, capturing motion better than significantly more expensive competitors.

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Fitbit Charge 3

With a look that resembles a high-tech watch and battery that can last over a week, the Fitbit Charge 3 is a solid fitness tracker. It is water resistant, so you can use it while swimming along with usual options, like walking and running. Plus, it can monitor your heart rate and sync data to the companion app.

One thing that is especially frustrating about the Fitbit Charge 3 is the fact it requires a proprietary charger. If you lose it, you can’t use a common type C USB instead. It also doesn’t come with an integrated GPS, and the screen is monochrome. However, the screen is very large, which is nice.

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Garmin Vivosmart 4

One of the slimmest fitness tracker devices around, the Garmin Vivosmart 4 has some unique features that help it stand out. For example, there is a pulse oxygen sensor along with the heart rate monitor, and the advanced sleep monitoring capabilities can even track REM. It will also measure your Body Battery, the amount of energy it thinks you have left.

The only drawbacks are the lack of GPS and the small screen. However, it does have good battery life, which is handy.

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Huawei Band 2 Pro

The Huawei Band 2 Pro is as affordable as it is capable. It can track running, biking, and swimming while also monitoring heart rate and oxygen levels. The step counting is particularly accurate, and you can link the data with other third-party platforms, including Apple Health and MyFitnessPal.

On the downside, the included app is incredibly clunky. The tracker itself is also a little bland, but that isn’t the end of the world.

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Best Fitness Tracker Apps

But maybe you don’t want another device. Today, nearly everyone has a smartphone, often keeping them within arm’s reach 24/7. Fitness tracker apps are incredibly convenient thanks to their accessibility. However, they are not all created equal. Here are some of the best.

MyFitnessPal

With a five million item food database, integrated barcode nutritional scanner, and recipe importer feature, MyFitnessPal is one of the most popular diet tracking apps around. Plus, it has exercise tracking options, and can help users develop eating and workout plans based on their unique goals.

The app also works to keep you motivated, thanks to gamification. It’s also very user-friendly, so users can finish entering their information each day in just a few minutes.

However, MyFitnessPal isn’t perfect. It can’t accurately measure how many calories a person burns during a workout because it can’t adjust for factors like exertion levels, breaks, or the amount of weight lifted. This means the number of calories it thinks you burned and how many you actually burned might vary dramatically.

8fit

Part meal and fitness tracker, part healthy living guide, 8fit helps users create plans based on their unique goals and monitor their progress along the way. Plus, it also takes a person’s current stats and, more importantly, personal preferences into account, going into great detail to find the right options for each user.

On the diet side, the app can create meal plans based on the number of times a person wants to eat each day, how much variety they need in their food, and preferred prep methods. Plus, users can tell the app how often they grocery shop and the app will create a handy list for the right number of recipes.

Physical activity logging options are practically endless too. The list includes everything from running to martial arts, and even has entries for sexual activity. In the app, users gain access to fitness plans and an exercise library filled with video examples that show users how to do the moves correctly.

The main drawbacks are that the recipes are only available in the PRO version, and that comes with a price tag. Additionally, the diet advice comes off a bit extreme at times, which is pretty off-putting. For example, sugar is referred to as “the devil” on numerous occasions, and the suggestion to avoid fruits and legumes is a bit pushy.

Fitness Buddy

Fitness Buddy is an exercise-oriented fitness tracker. The app features strength training video tutorials and various workouts, ensuring you have a solid program and know how to do each move. In the free version, users can try five different premade workouts and create two custom workouts. Plus, there are over 300 exercises, making it easy to set up a routine with some variety.

The Fitness Buddy app is incredibly intuitive, allowing users to get around quickly. Inside each workout, users can review the expected time and record their actual time. Plus, there is an option for heart rate tracking.

Some of the options and features are placed behind a paywall. However, the price is very reasonable. One annoying part is the frequent popups, which interrupt the browsing experience if you are not a premium user.