Winter Activities Foster Year-round Fitness

By Western Berks on December 24th, 2015

The urge to “hibernate” in winter is strong, even for us humans. However, you are better off staying in shape than struggling to catch up come spring. And winter exercise benefits more than just physical fitness; it is also a powerful antidote for the winter blues.

Your options for winter workouts vary by interest and location. People in warmer, sunnier climates have the outdoor advantage over those in regions with cold temperatures and snow. But many people find being outdoors in winter exhilarating. Snow shoeing, ice skating and cross country skiing—regarded as one of the best cardiovascular workouts—are among winter’s unique outdoor activities.

Winter exercise is not without its risks and challenges. In below-freezing weather, frostbite and hypothermia are of concern, while rainy climates make it challenging to stay both warm and dry. Make certain that you wear the right clothing to protect your skin and maintain appropriate body heat. And do not skimp on the warm-up exercises! Your muscles take longer to loosen up in colder weather, making injury more likely without adequate preparation.

If outdoor exercise in winter weather is not to your liking, shift your focus indoors. Head to the gym or health club for sports, fitness classes and workouts. Many facilities also have indoor pools. Swimming is an excellent year-round activity that is gentle on joints and enhances cardiovascular health, strength and flexibility. In many communities, walkers take to the indoor shopping malls in winter. Local walking clubs, health clubs and some malls themselves sponsor mall-walking programs.

In all seasons, varying your activities—cross training—will reduce the likelihood of injury and help prevent boredom. Focus alternately on strength and endurance, flexibility and balance, and skills specific to your favorite sports or fitness activities. Aim for 4 to 6 weekly sessions of 30 to 45 minutes each.

Western Berks Physical Therapy can design a winter fitness program to facilitate your specific fitness goals while keeping you in shape and injury-free.