Staying active throughout the year is a challenge for many of us.  It’s hard to find the time, the motivation and the appropriate place to exercise, especially during rainy times, winter or even extreme heat.  We seem to have plenty of options in the spring and summer, but those options seem more limited once autumn arrives.  Fortunately, there are many ways to stay active during the colder months without sacrificing comfort and warmth.  The key is knowing your options and engaging in them safely.

Investing in a Gym Membership
In summer when you get the urge to exercise, it’s easy to throw on your workout clothes and go for a jog around the neighborhood.  However, it’s often not feasible to do the same thing during winter months.  One alternative option is to invest in a gym membership.

  • Many gyms offer flexible hours of operation, which are convenient even for people with unpredictable work schedules.  If you decide to purchase a membership, you have the option to plan your workouts ahead of time or the flexibility to stop in when you have some free time or are in the area.
  • If you live in an apartment, your complex might have an on-site gym to consider using.  On-site gyms offer the convenience of being close to home and often still have extended hours.  This allows you to be regular with your workouts while staying protected from the cold weather.

Alternatives to Indoor Gyms
Even if you can’t afford a gym membership for indoor workouts, there are still several effective alternatives to joining a gym.

  • If you don’t have access to an on-site gym, consider exercising at home.  One of the benefits of exercising at home is that you can be as creative as you want in your workouts.  You don’t have to adhere to a strict workout regimen to stay active.
  • Another method to stay active and warm is to walk around an indoor mall multiple times.  This is similar to walking laps around an outdoor park, except that you get to do it in the comfort of a well-heated building.
  • Consider altering your routine whenever possible.  For instance, if you find yourself somewhere with an elevator, choose to take the stairs instead.

Outdoor Workout Methods
For some people, exercising indoors might not be an option, in which case you may consider outdoor exercise instead.  However, exercising outside during winter can come with multiple risks that are important to be aware of.

  • When the body is exposed to the cold for a long period of time, it can develop hypothermia.  Hypothermia can be reversed if caught in time, but if left untreated can be fatal.
  • Skin that is exposed to the cold can develop frostbite, a condition in which the layers of skin freeze.  This can lead to permanent damage.
  • If there is snow or ice on the ground, there is a possibility of falling, which can result in injuries such as sprains, strains, broken bones or even concussions.  Consider avoiding running or jogging when the ground is icy and stick to walking instead.

Consider taking extra preparations before starting your outdoor workout.

  • Wear multiple layers of clothing to help prevent hypothermia.  Keeping your nose, ears, toes and fingers covered with face masks, scarves, ear muffs, double-layered socks and gloves helps prevent frostbite by reducing skin’s exposure to the cold.
  • Wear sneakers or boots with sharp, grooved soles to provide traction against slippery surfaces.  This helps reduce your risk of slipping and falling.

It can be challenging to find ways to exercise during the winter.  Fortunately, there are many options for you to choose from so that you can stay active and stay safe.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Jackie Borst, PA-C

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