Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Survival Guide, Part 6: Staying Fit in Cold Weather

This dilemma stretches well past the holiday season: how do we stay fit when it's cold, dark and (worse) icy outdoors?
I am a dedicated exercise fanatic, and I'll bundle up and head outdoors even in the coldest weather. But I'm a complete coward about treading on ice. Since winter weather also brings out the cave-man instinct to eat more--storing up calories until the spring--we had better figure out how to burn off the hearty foods we're consuming. Here's my advice for all healthy foodies (including aspiring ones) to consider.

1. Get outdoors, even for short bursts. Put your exercise clothes out at night so first thing in the morning you can jump right into them and out the door. Fifteen minutes in the neighborhood makes a great start to your day. I'll go out saying to myself "just fifteen minutes" but once I've warmed up, that 15 stretches into 20, 30 or more. Do what your schedule will allow, and something is always better than nothing. Add a short walk at lunchtime and another one after work, and you're getting a decent amount total.
2. Join a gym, sign up for Jazzercise classes, get into mall walking -- in short, you do need a backup for times when outdoor exercise is just not an option. At least in Cincinnati (and probably elsewhere, too), fitness clubs over-expanded in the boom years before the crash of '08, and most are desperate for new customers. If the deal they offer you is too expensive, talk them down. It's really doable!
3. If all else fails, exercise inside your own house or apartment. Get free workout DVDs from the library or find exercise shows on cable television. This is not something I've ever had much interest in, but I know people who swear by their own private indoor workouts. A treadmill or elliptical trainer in the basement works for some folks, too.

Whatever you decide, make yourself a promise to get off your duff and shape up -- if in fact you're not already in the fitness habit. (If you are, bravo!)

I had a Jazzercise instructor once who used to motivate the class by saying if we work harder we can EAT MORE. She had us trained to call out those last two words in unison. I can think of no better reason to work fitness into my day than that very thing -- now I can EAT MORE. Woo-hoo!

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