Chill Out With A Cool Outdoor Workout!

Photo by Miranda Kaitlin Randall

The coldest months for the Sandhills, January and February, are the perfect time to start shedding any excess “holiday weight” that may have been picked up over the holiday season.

The buzz of the new year has died down and the excess of free time can be utilized to focus on one’s own health, even if this is the time of year when we feel like doing nothing more than staying indoors away from the cold, not going out into it.

Fortunately, getting your daily fill of fitness doesn’t have to be a chore, and a “brisk” workout may be the best thing for your body this time of year.

The colder it is outside, the harder your body has to work to regulate its core temperature. Thankfully, you can use your body’s internal struggle against the elements to your advantage to burn more calories compared to indoor exercises.

Rest easy knowing that even a few minutes of exercise in the cold gets the heart pumping and improves cardiovascular endurance, strengthening one’s heart muscles with just a few cold weather workout sessions.

Skipping the gym and opting to do your workouts in the comfort of your own back yard or favorite spot at the local park will help you see results more quickly when compared to warm weather workouts.

Another added benefit of “brisk” workouts is that it gives you a reason to get out and get moving. All too often we find ourselves barricading ourselves within our homes during the winter, complacent to go into hibernation mode and curl up in front of the TV. As tempting as the former option may sound, getting out even once a day for a walk around the block or a quick outdoor yoga session does a world of good for one’s physical and mental health.

At first, forcing yourself to workout in winter months may seem excruciating. Joints may ache and the cold wind may sting, but according to researchers at Harvard University, there is surprisingly little to worry about for cold weather workouts. Though the aches and pains associated with the cold weather may be a nuisance, they are otherwise harmless.

Wearing appropriate athletic attire and completing proper warm-ups are the key to a successful winter workout, proving effective at preventing pain and lowering the chance of catching a cold.

Gearing up appropriately by layering thermal and moisture- wicking workout attire will help you control your body temperature, alleviating the aches that cold weather may cause. Properly warming up before working out will do just that—warm you up.

A few quick stretches or light aerobic exercise before a full-fledged workout will​warm up your joints and get the blood flowing for a successful and pain-free workout.

Taking a brisk walk around one of the community’s many lakes is a great way to start any morning or wind down from a long day. Pet owners may enjoy leashing up their four-legged companion and bringing them along for a much needed outing.

For added enjoyment, invite along a loved one and take the walk side-by-side or hand-in-hand, making sure to stop and enjoy the rich, vibrant colors of the sun rising or setting over your favorite local lake.

This Valentine’s day, turn the challenge of a winter workout into a fun bonding experience that you can both enjoy. See who can hold a silly stretch or yoga pose the longest, or simply head out for a long walk around the lake and reminisce on days gone by together.

Couples up for a challenge may try a short bicycle race around the community or a round of golf together in the cold. After all, multiple studies have found that couples who sweat together stay together!

This research was derived from Dr. Adam Tenforde of Harvard’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.