Monday, February 25, 2008

Winter Workout


When you think of exercise and sports, do you think of fun in the sun? Summer's long past and winter's right here, but it's not time to hibernate. Winter offers you plenty of opportunities to keep active, fit and healthy. So put down that hot chocolate, gear up and enjoy all that winter has to offer!

Build Snow Strength
Getting around in the winter through deep and sometimes heavy snow can require real strength. David W. Douglass, MS, CSCS, owner of San Diego-based Mobile Health and Fitness suggests preparing for action before you visit a winter playland. "Because sports like skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing put a great deal of strain on the lower body, you should prepare yourself in the off-season," Douglass says.

"Participate in some type of resistance or high-intensity training regimen such as weight training, hill walking, running and stair climbing." Mixing up these activities also lessens the likelihood that you'll be sore when you hit the slopes, whether you're on skis or the back of your child's sled.

Choose from this menu of cold-weather fun.

Both downhill and cross-country skiing provide an exceptional hip and thigh workout. If you're an old pro, make sure you take a few warm-up runs before tackling the double diamond trails. If you're a newbie, take a lesson or two to learn the basics of safety and technique. Stick to the bunny slope until you can effectively turn and stop. When downhill skiing or snowboarding, consider wearing a helmet. And remember: Always ski in control.

Snowboarding isn't just reserved for young, brash, extreme athletes anymore. People of all ages are doing it. While the motion is a bit different than skiing, it also affords you a superb workout from the waist down. And it is also a good cardiovascular workout. As with skiing, be safe and take a lesson or two, and consider wearing a helmet. Before long you'll be out there carving up the powder!

You can use your favorite hiking trails all year, just strap on some snowshoes. If you're vacationing at a ski resort, ask about snowshoeing. Some resort areas offer day trips including snowshoe and gear rental. Consider using trekking poles for balance and some extra arm and shoulder exercise. Snowshoes come in many different styles; some are geared for jogging over the snow.

Sledding is a great way to fit in a workout and family time. Of course, sliding down a hill is exhilarating, but it's the climb back up to the top of the hill that'll work your cardiovascular system and leave your lower body begging for mercy. Start off on small hills and work up to the bigger ones. Like with any activity, too much exercise too soon (even if it's for fun) can lead to soreness the following day.

Build a Snowman or Fort
Building a snowman or a snow fort can be a lot of fun and a great workout. Rolling and lifting heavy snowballs will work your cardiovascular system and stress all the muscles in your body. Make sure you use proper lifting technique. Bend at the knees, not at the waist. Keep the snowballs close to your body and breathe out as you lift.

Winter Safety Tips

Dress warmly.
Tune in to the weather report and dress appropriately. Wear layers, starting with a synthetic wicking layer next to your skin to prevent chills. You can always remove a layer or two if you become hot.

Wear sunscreen.
Even though your swimsuit is in the attic, don't leave your sunscreen there. You can get burned in the winter. In fact, the reflection off the snow can intensify the sun's harmful effects.

Drink water.
Dehydration is a very real concern even on cold winter days. Winter air is both cold and dry. This provides the perfect environment for evaporative sweat loss. You also lose body water through respiration. Drink water throughout the day even if you're not thirsty.

Warm up.
Start off slowly and ease into all winter activities. This will divert blood flow to your exercising muscles, tendons and ligaments, thus reducing your risk of injury. Stretch the muscles you will be working. And don't push yourself to the extremes unless you are properly trained. Too much of a good thing is not always a good thing.


  1. great entry

  2. Great advice, Emmi.  Doesn't apply to me because we haven't had any snow all winter, lol.  I should have no excuse whatsoever for not exercising outdoors.