Warming up in the cold: staying active in all weathers

Are cold, cloudy, snowy or rainy days keeping you indoors? Are you waiting for warm, sunny weather to lure you outside and push you to become more active? You’re in good company, if that’s the case. But there are ways to get you out and about in the coldest temperatures. And staying active is essential for good health at any age.

Did you feel confined at home?

I get almost daily weather forecasts from my daughter, who lives in Washington, DC. Over the past few months, the report usually goes like this: “Freezing, arctic winds, some snow, possibility of more snow, ice, cold and very cold.”

It’s not that she doesn’t enjoy the winter months, but the bad weather keeps her trapped indoors. She’s a runner and enjoys hiking nearby trails, and the biting cold puts her motivation on ice.

Add in his remote work and the shadow of COVID, and it makes staying home that much easier. Of course, she has her kettlebells and resistance bands, and does home workouts to exercise. But it’s not the same.

Like countless others, my daughter struggles to stay active outdoors when the extended forecast calls for gloomy weather. I’m guilty too. I like to swim in open water in Florida, where I live, but when the Gulf waters drop below 70 degrees, even in a wetsuit, I stay ashore.

So what can you do to keep warm in the cold until spring and summer fully arrive and you can return to your usual outdoor habitat? Here are three tips.

Join a fitness group

You are not alone in your cold war, and unity is strength. Join a group walk or run or other outdoor activity with a team element. You are much more likely to go out and show up when others depend on your participation.

“Your teammates are also a way to increase social interactions, and the potential connections you make help you stay engaged in fitness by surrounding you with other people who are actively working on their own fitness goals,” says David. Topor, clinical psychologist and associate director. for training healthcare professionals at the Harvard-affiliated VA Boston Healthcare System.

This fitness tribe approach has helped me, as I recently joined an open water swimming group. My group motivates me to show up for evening and morning swims that I would otherwise skip.

Set a goal for spring

Nothing motivates more than a strict deadline. Sign up for a run, sign up for a couch 5k program, or book an active adventure trip for May or beyond. This way you will have to go out more to be physically prepared. My daughter recently signed up for a half marathon so she needs to start lacing her running shoes. Plus, making a financial investment (and not wanting to waste money) is an extra motivation.

Embrace the cold

Instead of hiding from the cold, face it head on and engage in a cold weather activity like skiing (downhill or cross-country), snowshoeing, skating or heck, even the favorite Winter Olympics TV event of 2022: curling. This approach helps in two ways: it provides a new challenge and allows you to interact more with the cold, so it feels less intimidating.

Many of these activities are comparable or even superior to traditional aerobic exercise in hot weather. For example, a review of several studies found that skiing provided the same cardiovascular benefits as indoor cycling. If you choose to try new activities in cold weather, your brain could also benefit.

Exercising in cold weather can improve certain aspects of your physical condition, such as increasing your endurance.

“When the temperatures are colder, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard, you sweat less and expend less energy, which means you can exercise more effectively,” says Dr Adam Tenforde, Assistant Professor of Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. at the Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of the last revision or update of all articles. Nothing on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your physician or other qualified clinician.

About Marie A. Gingrich

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