Physical activity tends to dip in bad weather. Skipping exercise for long stretches could cheat your health. “Maintaining your fitness level through regular exercise confers a multitude of benefits ranging from improved insulin sensitivity to better cognitive health,” says Jennifer Sacheck, PhD, an associate professor at Tufts’ Friedman School. “Exercise simply should be part of your routine – rain or shine and in cold or warm weather.” If the season weakens your resolve to exercise, try these strategies:
1. Gear up to exercise in the elements.
Always use discretion when temperatures dip or soar, but with the right clothing you can often exercise safely and comfortably outdoors in less-than-perfect weather. “When it’s cold out, dress in layers, starting with a lightweight, moisture-wicking base layer to help regulate your body temperature,” Sacheck says. “Warm your head with a funky winter hat.” When you can, change your workout time to enjoy better temperatures.
2. Exercise in your living room.
Invest in a few inexpensive pieces of equipment. “A yoga mat is great for core exercises and strength training, plus stretching and yoga poses,” Sacheck says. “Use hand weights and your own body resistance to work major muscle groups. For example, do lunges and calf raises with weights in your hands.”
3. Walk indoors.
If available, walk at a local mall. Many have organized mall walking programs, but you can walk anytime the mall is unlocked. Alternatively, walk laps at a community center or large store. Or, simply walk at home with a video, such as from <walkathome.com>.
4. Join a fitness club.
They house weight-lifting equipment and cardio machines such as treadmills and exercise bikes, plus they may offer fun classes. Many have swimming pools and indoor courts for racquetball and basketball, too. Talk to others your age to see if there’s a gym they like, and ask clubs if they offer a free trial or guest pass and discounts for seniors.
5. Take up an indoor activity.
Most towns have a bowling alley, and many have leagues to join. Bowling can help build strength and endurance. Community education programs often offer dance classes, such as ballroom, polka and salsa, which provide a cardiovascular workout. Since such events may only be once a week, they shouldn’t be your only exercise, but they’re a fun way to add variety to your regimen.