Staying Active in the Winter

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Image of runnersWhen winter begins, you have two options: you can pull the covers up over your head or you can suit up and head out for a winter adventure! There’s no reason you need to take a break from physical activity when the temperature drops. Working out in the winter has some distinct benefits. In fact, winter’s chill can make you feel awake and invigorated. Heading outside in the winter is also a great way to take in the sunlight (in small doses). Not only does light dramatically improve many people’s moods but it also helps you get some vitamin D.
It is recommended for substantial health benefits that adults do at least 150 minutes (30 minutes 5 days a week) a week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes (25 minutes 3 days a week) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. There is an easy way to tell the difference between moderate and vigorous activity. When performing moderate-intensity activities you can carry on a conversation, but you’ll be breathing heavier. During vigorous activities, you can carry on a conversation but will find yourself pausing to take a breath. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
Walking Works Great!
There are many benefits to walking which is why it is considered a great form of physical activity, especially for those who are just starting to incorporate physical activity into their lives.
It’s efficient.  Just 30 minutes of walking a day can improve your circulation, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and help you lose weight.
It’s free.  The only thing you need to start is a pair of supportive walking shoes.
It’s simple.  There’s no equipment required, nothing complicated to learn, and you can do it right where you are. Just step outside.
Bundle up for safety!
Staying warm and dry when heading out to exercise in the cold weather is all about layers. The best advice for dressing for outdoor activities in the winter is to layer your clothing. Layers help trap the heat and form a kind of insulation against the elements. Resist your instinct to layer with cotton. Once cotton becomes wet with sweat, the moisture is trapped and will actually make you feel colder. For your first layer, you want something that wicks moisture away (like the newer high-performance fabrics). Next, add a layer of fleece; finally, top with a thin waterproof layer.
Try a Circuit
Walking may not be your style, but an exercise circuit (a cycle of 5–6 moves, run a few times through) might work for you. It is a great way to stave off boredom and get a lot done in a short amount of time. You can create your own mini-circuits at home. Ideally, your circuit will include a cardio burst of 1–2 minutes, followed by 3–5 exercises that work various parts of your body. Here is an example:
  • Jump rope, jog in place or run your steps (start with 1 minute and progress to 2)
  • 10 pushups (You can modify with knees down if you are having trouble holding a straight body pushup position)
  • 20 crunches (with feet flat and knees up, legs bent in the air at 90 degrees or straight up, or your favorite variation)
  • 20 hip lifts (flat on your back, arms down on the ground at your sides with fingertips pointing toward feet, feet flat with knees bent at 90 degrees; press feet and shoulders into the floor as you lift your hips as high as you can; lift and lower)
  • 30-second plank hold (holding a pushup position; body as a straight line, or with knees down)
  • 10 triceps dips on a chair/couch (Sit on a chair with feet flat and knees bent at 90 degrees; hands at sides, palms pressed into the chair with fingertips facing forward; take one large step with right foot, and join left foot beside it; bend your arms to 90 degrees as you lower and lift; keeps abs tight)

Use these tips to help make your holiday a healthy one! Combat the 3 to 5 pounds most people gain during the holiday season by being active no matter where you are or what the weather.

For more information on physical activity contact Olivia Jones via email, olivia_jones@ncsu.edu or phone 252-232-2261.