The temperature outside might be dropping, but that doesn’t mean your fitness routine has to take the heat for it. Cold weather is no excuse to forgo your fitness. Finding ways to stay active — and have fun — in the fall and winter is easier than you think.
Explore the indoors
Basketball helps develop concentration and self-discipline and builds muscle, says Andre Smith, a certified personal trainer at 4Ever Fit in Cleveland. “It also helps keep your cardiovascular activity level up, which in turn will help provide better overall endurance and muscle endurance,” Smith says.
To focus on cardio while playing basketball, increase your tempo. Sure, shooting hoops burns calories, but running or jogging up and down the court can really get your heart pumping.
Be sure to wear gym shoes and comfortable workout clothing, such as shorts or a tank top. “These activities will keep your body from plateauing,” Smith says. “Switching your routine up is good for overall muscle development and growth.”
Boxing and martial arts are also great for guys who want to let out frustration, says certified personal trainer Christian Koshaba, founder of Three60Fit in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
“I found, as far as for myself, it’s such a great stress reliever,” Koshaba says. “Just being able to hit something, not always another human, you’re getting in an awesome sweat. It’s just really good psychologically and emotionally. You’re meeting new friends in the gym, and that’s really what it’s about.”
Brave the cold
Try cross-country skiing, which can help improve endurance, relieve stress and is also great cardio. As you’re soaking up the sun, you’ll get some vitamin C.
But Fabio Comana, a faculty instructor at the National Academy of Sports Medicine, says it’s important to remember that the cold air is dry, which can lead to respiratory challenges. So doing a quick warm-up might be necessary to warm the air that your body takes in and allow the pulmonary system to adjust.
“Many do not realize that rapid dehydration can occur in cold, dry environments, so it is important to guard against with plenty of fluid intake,” Comana says. “Sweat remaining against the skin can freeze and cause frostbite, so breathable and removable layers with wicking properties are critical to remove moisture from the skin while allowing heat to pass into the environment.”
A cover for the mouth might be appropriate, Comana says, and be sure to bring protective cushioning in case you fall.
You can also strap on some tennis rackets to your shoes and go snowshoeing. A form of hiking, snowshoeing provides a cardio workout while also building strength, agility, balance and endurance. Jonathan Ross, a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise, says it’s important for mood and mindset to get active outdoors, even in the winter.
“Connecting physical activity to something that is real, outdoors and lets you feel your lungs and legs working out in nature provides a benefit different, deeper and more rich than a gym workout,” Ross says. “Learning to appreciate the more clear, crisp air, the lower traffic on hiking trails, the different animals you see while outside, are keys to enjoying the outdoors year-round.”
And, Ross says, whether you’re bringing the heat inside or find a cool outdoor exercise, what matters is that you’re staying active. “These kinds of activities are a way to find something you enjoy about winter, instead of just complaining how cold it is,” he says.