Burning Calories During the Winter
Staying healthy and active can be particularly challenging during the winter months. It’s oftentimes much easier to stay inside as the weather turns cold and we have less sunlight throughout the day.
Furthermore, the holiday season surrounds us with sweet treats and larger portions that are hard to turn down. It is no wonder a lot of us find ourselves with some unexpected weight by the time the snow melts in the spring. Luckily there are a few ways we can burn a few extra calories and jump start our winter fitness.
Join a Group Fitness Class
Motivation is hard to find around the holiday season. Joining a group fitness class can give you the extra motivation to get out of bed or get moving even when the sun isn’t out. Furthermore, indoor classes take away the factor of cold weather, giving you one less excuse to skip your workout.
Once you start making friends and plan to take classes together, you will find extra drive to not miss your workout so that you don’t disappoint your friend who is looking forward to seeing you. Workout partners are great for helping hold each other accountable. Any type of class will help burn calories, but high intensity interval classes, that focus on getting your heart rate up, will maximize your calorie burning for those of us short on time.
Burning Calories in the Snow
There is a reason snow blowers were invented – shoveling snow can be hard work! Many of us consider shoveling snow just another unwanted chore to do during the holiday season. With a different attitude, however, we can look at shoveling snow as a chance to get a small workout in and burn a few hundred extra calories.
The best thing about shoveling snow is that it is both an upper and lower body workout. When you use more of your body parts, you burn more calories. The biggest thing to remember, when shoveling snow, is to be sure to use your legs to do most of the work and to avoid excessive twisting and bending with your back.
For instance, once you get a full shovel load, instead of twisting and throwing the snow over your shoulder, use your legs to lift and pivot to the side so that your back doesn’t need to twist. Before you know it your heart rate will be up from all the mini lunges and squats you are performing.
Winter Family Activities Can Burn Calories
Go sledding with your family members. If the idea of going to a gym and working out is not appealing to you, try to find an activity you actually enjoy. One of the benefits of the holiday season is that a lot of us are surrounded by family members so it is a great opportunity to play with nephews, nieces, or grandchildren.
One great outdoor activity is sledding. Sure, the ride down the hill may not burn a lot of calories, but the multiple hikes back up the hill through deep snow with heavy boots on are certain to get your heart rate up. Multiple trips up and down a hill can actually serve as a form of interval training where you do short bursts of activity followed by short periods of rest. To increase your workout, try to race your family members back up the hill!
Hopefully this list will get you thinking about other ways to stay active during the winter months. Remember that if calorie burning is your goal, getting your heart rate up is essential.
If you have any questions or concerns about your ability to do aerobic activity this holiday season or past injuries that may be preventing you from performing these activities, please consult with either your physician, physical therapist, or other healthcare provider.
These blogs were written by various members of the CHI Health care teams.