Staying Active in the Winter

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, but have you seen yours lately?  Don’t be surprised if it looks a little different than it did in the summer months – the frigid winter can affect waistlines as much as moods and pocketbooks.   Winter makes it harder to get around as well as get out and move.  So what can you do to stay active during the last few weeks of below-freezing temperatures?

As the spring and summer months quickly approach, many are looking for a “quick fix” to lose their winter weight.  Despite what the infomercials say, there is no quick fix! I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the fine print of most weight loss miracles says that you will lose weight IF the product is used in conjunction with diet and exercise. But how is that possible, especially in  winter? The gym is packed with people still holding on to that last thread of their New Year’s resolution, workout videos and equipment can be expensive, and the great outdoors are uninviting.  Plus, who has time to exercise?

But staying active doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful.  Here are a few tips to help you and your loved ones transition into a healthier lifestyle during the homestretch of winter 2014:

1. Go to the library! No, not for books (though books are great), but for workout videos! Many libraries have exercise videos on loan for free with a library card.  Videos range from beginner to advanced and include all types of exercises.  Many videos don’t even require equipment other than some floor space, while some require hand weights or resistance bands.  Exercise videos typically range from 30 minutes an hour or more.  This is the perfect way to learn what you like before investing in your own video!

2. Walk! Walking is a great way to incorporate exercise into your day.  Going for a short walk before or after meals is an easy way to burn some extra calories.  If you can, take advantage of the (somewhat) warmer temperatures and head outside; otherwise, walk inside! The 2008 physical activity guidelines for adults suggest 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week. That is 25 minutes 6 days a week.  That’s about 2% of the time you spend awake each day. Think about it!

Winter-Walking

3. Use commercials as motivation! As youwatch your favorite TV shows, get up and active during commercials.  Commercials run, on average, 30 seconds each.  Try doing a different move at each commercial. Attempt a sequence similar to this: seated leg lifts, arm circles (arms out straight at sides), Jumping Jacks, sit-ups.  These can all be done without any equipment and require very little space.  If you have access to a computer, look online for more sequences like this.

4. Make exercise a competition! Nothing gets the blood flowing like a little bit of competition!  Find a few friends who also want to get moving and set some competition guidelines.  Hanging a chart in a visible spot in your house where you can record your daily physical activity is also a good way to encourage you to exercise.

But remember, a combination of eating right and staying active is always the best way to stay healthy not only during , but all year long! Providing your body with the appropriate nutrients helps it run as well as possible.  Remember to always consult your doctor before starting an exercise routine.  To discuss more about exercise and eating right, talk to you your HHO Dietitians.

-Allison Polke, RD, LDN

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