If you’re like many people, you may find it difficult to exercise through the dark days of winter. Even through the dark and dreary days, it’s important to continue to keep your muscles, joints and bones engaged to help prevent serious musculoskeletal disorders. One way to stay on track is to mix up your exercise routine by taking a creative approach.
Walk off the gloom and soak in moments of sunshine
Any seasoned Pacific Northwesterner knows there are always short breaks in the weather. This is the perfect time to take a walk through the many parks, beaches, and fresh air in this resplendent place we call home. According to both the American Heart Association and Harvard Medical School, walking at a lively pace for 150 minutes a week provides a host of benefits including:
- Easing joint pain and the prevention arthritis
- Enhancing bone strength and reducing the risk of osteoporosis
- Counteracting the effect of weight-promoting genes
- Boosting immune function
- Reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
- Improving blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol
If 150 minutes seems excessive, there are many ways to incorporate more steps into your day. Walk to the store or a neighborhood restaurant, walk your kids to the playground, take the stairs at the office or take a walk at lunchtime. You’ll find that the steps add up in no time. Wherever you decide to venture, make sure to take your raincoat and dress in layers to maintain a comfortable core body temperature.
Dark day, need play? There’s plenty to keep you moving inside.
Aside from walking, there are many other options for keeping yourself fit through the winter. If you just can’t get yourself to venture into the cold and wet, incorporate more movement into your day from your own home. Get creative by running the stairs in your home, exercising through TV commercials with jumping jacks or bicep curling that heavy bottle of laundry detergent. When was the last time you played hide and seek with the kids? Or, try blasting your favorite tunes and dancing around the house with your spouse or kids while you all cook and clean. It really does add up. According the Harvard Medical School, dancing burns between 90 to 266 calories per half hour.
Of course, there’s always the traditional workout route to keep your muscles engaged. Try some low impact exercises at home. You can also find more structured workouts with your cable provider, streaming services, YouTube, online content like Fitness Blender, and even the library. Mix it up by trying something new like yoga, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), Pilates, cross-training or strength training.
There’s snow in them thar hills
If you can’t bear to be cooped up all winter, don’t despair. Exercising through dark days in the Pacific Northwest includes outdoor snow sports. After all, for most of us the mountains are at most, a couple of hours away. Head to the snowy hills for some cross-country skiing, downhill skiing or snowshoeing. Each are exhilarating sports and impressive calorie-burners according the Harvard Medical School.
However you decide to workout this winter, don’t forget to warm up before any strenuous outdoor workout. A warm up will increase the temperature of muscles and connective tissue, which reduces the risk of orthopedic injury and ultimately improves performance.
All of us at Puget Sound Orthopaedics wish you an enjoyable winter. Stay dry, stay safe and stay healthy.