University of Pennsylvania Health System

Penn Health and Wellness

Monday, January 6, 2014

Fight the Winter Workout Woes

Lori M. Noble, MD, a primary care physician at Spruce Internal Medicine, located at the new Penn Medicine Washington Square building, discusses ways to keep active during the colder months.
Lori M. Noble, MD
Lori M. Noble, MD

When it’s cold and blustery outside, your warm and fluffy slippers have a tendency to look much more enticing than your running shoes. Before you know it, one day off turns into two and, eventually, that short exercise holiday has turned into an outright sabbatical.

This doesn’t have to be the case, though. Some simple tips to help stay active this winter:
  1. Switch it up: Who says you have to exercise the same way throughout the year? If you enjoy jogging or biking, there are great indoor alternatives to these activities.

    Try an exercise DVD series, sign up for an up-tempo Zoomba class, or try honing your swimming skills at the local YMCA. If you want to continue biking, get a stand that allows you to turn your road bike into a stationary one.

  2. Squeeze it in when and where you can: You can burn calories by making small changes to your daily routine. Did you know that an individual weighing 200 pounds can burn up to 12 calories an hour simply by choosing to stand rather than sit? That adds up to about 100 calories in an 8-hour workday, which is about the same as running a mile!

    And we often forget that there is a built-in gym in every office building - the stairs. Take them whenever you need to go between floors. Take it a “step” farther and carve out part of your lunch break to walk or run a few flights.

  3. Dress the part: If you know you won’t be able to get past the distractions at home or work to make exercising indoors possible, make exercising outside easier.

    You’ll need breathable, but fitted attire to keep warm and help reduce sweat. Because the body is mainly focused on warming your core, a hat, gloves, and warm socks are critical to feeling comfortable when the cold really hits.

  4. There’s power in numbers: When motivation is lacking, nothing is more powerful than the support of a friend. Try organizing a neighborhood walking club, or reach out to that person with whom you just never have enough time to catch up. Time flies when you’re having fun, so that 30-minute jog will inevitably feel much shorter in the company of friends.

  5. Track your progress: Setting goals is a great way to keep yourself motivated. Jot down your exercise plan for the month while keeping in mind the progress you hope to make. Keep the goals attainable, like increasing your workout by a few minutes each day. It's also nice to have a little reward planned once you've met your goal, like buying that new pair of sneakers you've had your eye on.
This winter, don’t let workout woes slow you down. Keep it interesting, and you’ll find it easier to keep moving.

Got an exercise tip you want to share? Let us know how you plan to stay active, indoors and out.

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