Beat the Blues With Winter Workouts

exercise with a friend Image via Pixabay

Image via Pixabay

Going for a brisk run outdoors is a sure way to boost your mood and your heart rate. But brisk takes on a whole new meaning when winter weather hits. So, if you’ve had to move your workout routine indoors for the time being, here are some tips for staying fit, focused, and warm this winter.

It’s Worth the Effort

When you aren’t feeling motivated to move, just remind yourself of the rewards. Exercise can help you control weight and stave off ailments including diabetes, heart disease, many types of cancer, and even some mood disorders. Indeed, studies have shown regular physical activity can be an effective complementary treatment for conditions including anxiety and depression because it releases endorphins and other mood-boosting chemicals in the brain.  Exercise also helps reduce stress by naturally increasing levels of calming brain chemicals including serotonin and dopamine, among other effects.

Not only does exercise reduce stress, but it also boosts your positive, motivating emotions, too. Part of this is biology—the body is regulating itself during exercise, but it also has to do with seeing and feeling the results of your efforts. For instance, setting and meeting goals, even if they are modest ones, can boost your self-confidence even before you start seeing the results of your efforts on the scale or in the mirror. And physical activity can provide a healthy, proactive way to take your mind off your worries.

Get Fit With a Friend

Exercising with a partner or a group can provide an even bigger boost to your social and emotional well-being. It is also a great winter-weather motivator because it increases your accountability to others.

Fitness partners or groups that share similar goals can also offer support, motivation, and often healthy competition, which all work to boost the likelihood that you’ll stick with an exercise routine, according to Experience Life magazine. They can also make a workout more fun and combine socializing and exercise for people who have limited time in their schedules for either activity. To implement this stay-fit strategy, consider looking for a partner who shares your objectives, whether you want to lose weight, build strength, try a new activity, or train for a specific event.

Or Get Healthy at Home

A home-based winter workout takes away almost all the barriers to staying fit, even for those who are self-conscious about how they look when they’re exercising. After all, you don’t even have to brave the cold to get to a gym or the crowd once you get there. Solo sweat sessions at home also save time and money because you don’t have to invest in a fitness club membership or take precious minutes to travel to and from the gym when your workout window is already narrow. And you can exercise absolutely any time that fits your schedule.

There are many methods to stay fit while staying home. For instance, if you don’t have a treadmill, exercise bike, or elliptical trainer, you can get a cardio workout just by jumping rope. Doing sets of jumping jacks, knee highs, squat thrusts, and the like will also get your heart going.  And you can stage a strength-training session using body-weight exercises including planks, crunches, push-ups, and lunges. Or invest in an affordable set of dumbbells or resistance bands to expand your weightlifting repertoire.

You can also practice yoga at home with little more than a mat. To polish and perfect your poses without spending any money, try checking out yoga DVDs from your local library or searching for free routines online.

Whether you prefer solo or social exercise, there are plenty of ways to stay warm this winter without putting your workout routine into hibernation. So turn up the thermostat and the tunes at home or find a fitness buddy and get moving.

Jason Lewis

Strongwell.org

jason_lewis@strongwell.org

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