Banish Winter Blues with Exercise

How many times have you looked out your window on a gray winter day and made the excuse that it’s too cold to exercise? While the short days and cold nights may tempt you into hibernation mode, and possibly spur bouts of depression, winter is actually a great time to try a new seasonal activity and jump-start your commitment to losing weight, while keeping your spirits up too.

Exercise is an essential part of leading a healthy lifestyle and the catalyst for a faster weight loss. Dr. Arthur Agatston, creator of the South Beach Diet, recommends 20 minutes of interval or core-strengthening exercise on most days of the week. Exercising not only tones your body and trims inches off your waistline, it also releases endorphins, known as “feel good” hormones, which can boost your mood, revitalize your energy levels, and prevent bouts of emotional eating. Try these fun outdoor workouts to help keep you motivated and shake those seasonal blues:

  • Ice skating. Sick of pounding the pavement? Take your workout on ice. Ice skating is a great winter sport that will condition both your body and your heart. Search for a local ice skating rink, where you can rent skates for an hour-long session or better yet bring your own skates—and the family. You can easily incorporate ice skating into your interval exercise routine. Skate around the rink for 15 to 60 seconds, going as fast as you safely can, the recover for the same amount of time. Do as many intervals as possible.

     

  • Snowshoeing. Snowshoeing is a fun way to explore hiking trails around your neighborhood park or in a safe, woodsy part of town. You can also snowshoe with family and friends in an open football or soccer field, or even your own backyard. Get your heart rate up by racing each other. Snowshoeing also makes a great core-strengthening workout: By taking wider steps as you walk uphill, you’ll engage your core as well as your lower-body muscles, including your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Snowshoes should have a lightweight aluminum frame and synthetic decking, which is usually made of a cold-resistant rubber or plastic material. Many sporting goods retailers have package deals that include snowshoes and poles. Keep in mind that using poles can help with balance issues, especially if you’re new to the sport, walking up hills, or doing steep inclines and descents.

     

  • Sledding. This traditional snow sport is a long-time favorite for adults and kids alike. Sledding can be a great workout for the same reasons as snowshoeing and ice skating, except it doesn’t require as many balancing skills. Run up the snowy hill and then use the downhill ride as your recovery period. For an added strength-training workout, carry your sled overhead as you climb back uphill or pull your kids all the way up. You can purchase a sled at a sporting goods store, or use an inner tube or waxed piece of cardboard as an alternative.

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