Health, Wealth, and…Winter?
By. Allyson Callahan
If you live in just about any 45 of the 50 states, you have probably been experiencing some kind of extreme winter weather over the last couple weeks. In Colorado, it’s been snowing non-stop for three days, and it’s supposed to continue for the rest of the week and weekend. In only one night, it dumped almost a foot in some parts of the city, which I know is nothing compared to the Snow-mageddon that attacked the Northeast. With all that snow, it’s almost impossible to get outside and stay active. We Coloradans are all about hiking, camping, running, climbing, and just about anything else we can do outdoors, which is probably why we are the fittest state in the US. But when that winter weather hits, it can be tempting to hide inside under the covers all day and drink hot cocoa. Fortunately, I have found several awesome ways to stay active, even in the middle of a blizzard. Here are my favorite winter fitness activities. Enjoy!
1. Snowboarding/Skiing: Not only does this activity get your blood rushing, adrenaline pumping, and heart racing, but it also takes advantage of the beautiful snowy weather and outstanding mountain terrain. If you just can’t get enough of the outdoors, this is definitely the best way to spend your winter months. You don’t have to resort to hours of couch potato time. Hit the slopes, and keep yourself in tip top shape. Snowboarding and skiing work almost every muscle in the body; and the generally high altitude at which these sports are performed contributes to an extremely productive heart and lung workout as well.
2. Indoor rock climbing: I might be a little biased on this one, as climbing happens to be one of my absolute favorite pastimes. However, the health and fitness benefits of this sport are undeniable. Rock climbing is probably one of the greatest full-body workouts ever invented (or discovered?). And, what’s more, it’s completely perfect for a snowy, cold day. Rock climbing requires an intense amount of focus and body control, both of which combine to give you the best indoor activity on the planet (again, a little biased). Seriously though, nothing beats the thrill of being fifty feet in the air, hanging onto a wall by your fingertips, dripping sweat, heart pounding, mind totally focused on reaching that next hold. Man, I’m getting all fired up just thinking about it!
3. Body weight exercises/Yoga: I know you have probably heard this a million times, so here is a million and one. Your body is the absolute greatest fitness machine you possess. Push-ups, sit-ups, planks, Russian twists—all of these are exercises you can do on your own, no equipment needed, anytime, anywhere. If it’s too icy to drive to the gym or go hike your favorite trail, don’t fret: you can still burn just as many calories right in your own living room. Bring out your yoga mat, open up a YouTube video, and learn some new moves. Put signs up on the threshold of each room with a specific bodyweight move for that room. For example, every time you walk into the bathroom, you have to do 5 push-ups. The living room might be 10 burpees, and the kitchen might require you to drink two glasses of water. Whatever you do, get creative and use what you already have to your advantage.
4. Play with the kids: Indoors or outdoors, getting active with your kids is an awesome way to stay in shape and burn off some extra energy (and calories!). Build a snowman in your front yard. You’d be surprised how much you can sweat, even in ten degree weather. The kids will have a blast, you’ll gain a new lawn decoration, and all that snow gets put to good use. If you’re just not up for the time it takes to bundle up and the effort you’ll have to put into drying the carpets afterwards, find a fun activity or game to play inside instead. Twister is a great way to engage your muscles and work on your flexibility while also keeping the kids entertained. Play Ring around the Rosy or Duck Duck Goose to get little legs moving and little hearts thumping. And don’t forget: a healthy mind is just as crucial as a healthy body! Take some time to engage in difficult board games, play cards, or build a puzzle together.
5. Dance: Dancing is a surprisingly awesome way to keep fit and functional during the winter. Whether you blast some tunes and dance around your living room, or you sign up for classes at your local studio, getting groovy can seriously boost your mood as well as your fitness level. Dance allows you to let go of pent up emotions while strengthening your muscles and lungs. Plus, you can do it inside, which is always a bonus when you’re trying to avoid the snow. There are so many different types of dance—hip hop, jazz, ballet, break, tap, ballroom, Irish, swing (just to name a few!). It’s almost guaranteed you’ll find something to tickle your fancy. Even if you’re not very coordinated or musically inclined, it’s still a great way to get out and try something new. Give it a shot, and even if you end up hating it, at least you got in a nice workout!
6. Trampoline park: I recently went to a new trampoline park here in the Springs, and oh my goodness, I have not had so much fun in years! I was sweating like a pig (which is weird, because pigs don’t actually sweat) and exhausted after two hours, but it was 100% worth it. If you have never been to a trampoline park, turn off your computer/phone right now, put on some comfy clothes, and go. You will not only get the best workout you have had in months, but you will also laugh and smile and enjoy yourself like you’re five again. Going to the trampoline park is definitely one of my new all-time favorite things to do when I can’t be outdoors. And, what’s even better is that my son can come along and have a blast, too. There isn’t anything better than working out, having fun, and being able to do both with your kids or someone you love. The trampoline park is certainly a spectacular place to accomplish this.
7. Meditate/read: Like I said before, health isn’t just about the body. Your mind also plays a large role in your fitness level, and if you’re not constantly working it out, you might become so open minded that your brains fall out! Really though, meditation and prayer and reading are wonderful ways to engage your mind and sharpen your mental state on a daily basis. Some people don’t like to read (ME ME ME!), so sit down with a Sudoku book or a crossword puzzle instead. Brew a nice cup of coffee, watch the snow fall, and focus your on renewing your mind for a few hours. You’d be surprised how much better a solid day of body rest with a great mind workout can make you feel. Sometimes it’s good to take a break from the everyday fitness routine and really let your muscles rejuvenate while you pinpoint your brain for some intense training instead.
If the snow isn’t your favorite thing, I certainly don’t blame you. There are a million reasons I would rather it be summer than winter. Luckily though, there are still a lot of outstanding ways to stay fit, healthy and happy without necessarily having to be outside. Next time you find yourself huddled up in bed until two in the afternoon, take a look back at this list and find something active to do with your snow day. Get up and make the most of what you have and where you’re at: I promise, you won’t regret it.