Healthy Living

Don’t let cold weather put chill on your fitness

Get your pencils out, folks — it’s quiz time! Honest answers only, please:

  • Is your main form of exercise lately the Herculean effort of buttoning your waistband after months of holiday indulgences?
  • Is the only thing you’re reducing this winter the amount of exercise you’ve been getting?
  • Has anyone mistaken you recently for a bear preparing for hibernation?

If you answered yes, or maybe, or threw your pencil across the room, it’s just possible you’re using wintry weather as an, ahem, excuse to abandon your workout routine. It’s not just you: One poll shows most women gain 4-5 pounds in the winter, while others range from 2 to 10 pounds (you, too, guys).

When the weather outside is frightful, you can still feel delightful about exercise. Here are some tips gathered from year-round fitness fanatics to keep you motivated until spring is sprung.

  • Set a goal. Signing up for your first 5K or plotting a path to a personal best in a half-marathon will keep you focused.
  • Join a walking or running group. Having set times to meet and friends who’ll both encourage you and hold you accountable makes it easier to stick to a routine.
  • Try a new class. If you’ve always wanted to try yoga or Zumba or cardio kickboxing, this is a great time to experiment.
  • Treat yourself to new gear. Let the neighbors admire those neon yellow kicks as you stride around your block.
  • Form a team. Gather some co-workers or friends to sign up for a bowling or volleyball league.
  • Get professional help. A few sessions with a personal trainer might be all you need to reinvigorate your workout routine.
  • Burn extra calories in the cold. Turns out that’s not actually true — or at least, not enough to really matter — but hey, we’re talking motivation here. If that thought gets you out the door, don’t let science stand in your way.

Above all, experts say, be realistic. Accept that some days you just won’t feel the love. The key is not letting a day turn into two, then a week.

“This is one of the most important things to consider when trying to create a healthy lifestyle,” says Shelly Mamo, exercise specialist at Colonial Life.

If you set an unrealistic goal to get up at 6 a.m. to go for a walk in the cold, but you’re not a morning person, you’ll be disappointed with the results. Instead start small. It can be easy to make excuses in the winter, but if you set realistic goals and do one small thing a day, you’ll be well on your way to a fitter and happier spring and summer season.

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