After the holidays, the novelty of winter often wears off, and we’re looking forward to warmer weather and spring. Yet with several months to go, we need something to boost our spirits, energy, and desire to keep on exercising until those more welcoming days arrive.
Physical exercise boosts the production of endorphins, those body chemicals that are credited with enhancing mood and reducing pain. Endorphins are one of the best things about exercise! The secret of staying active during the winter, however, is to find exercise opportunities that you not only enjoy but that also keep you warm.
Here are four ways to rev your engines and beat the winter blues both indoors and out.
HIIT. High-intensity interval training is a super way to heat up quickly and also finish your workout in about 15 to 20 minutes. In fact, for the second year in a row, “Canadian fitness professionals predict that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) will be one of the top two most effective fitness trends in Canada.
The basis of HIIT is to choose an activity that you can perform near maximum capacity for 30 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of moderate activity, and then repeating this cycle six to eight more times. You should do three to five minutes of stretching both before and after HIIT.
You can do HIIT either indoors (e.g., spinning, rowing, elliptical machine, treadmill) or outdoors (e.g., jogging/running, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, cycling). Either way, it’s nearly guaranteed you will feel warm and energized after your workout.
Rebounding. Jumping on a mini trampoline in the comfort of your home or office is a great way to enhance blood and lymph circulation, boost metabolism, and strengthen the musculoskeletal system. You can rebound while watching television or listening to music, and it can be a family affair: get your kids involved, each with their own trampoline. NASA has reported that rebounding is 68 percent more efficient than jogging as an exercise, so what are you waiting for?
Jumping rope. Here’s an activity that is perfect for those cold winter days when you don’t want to step out the door. All you need is a good pair of athletic shoes (cross-trainers are suggested), a comfortable jump rope (beaded is good for beginners), and enough room for the rope to swing, and you’re off! Jump on wood or an impact mat; avoid carpet, concrete, or asphalt.
Learn how to jump correctly; if you stay high on your toes, you reduce the impact to your knees, ankles, and rest of your body, which makes jumping rope less stressful than jogging or running. Spice up your rope jumping by varying speed, skipping, and marching in between jumping sessions.
Yoga. One of the benefits of yoga is the existence of so many different poses that can stimulate your mind, body, and spirit, and certain ones that tend to focus on specific goals. That’s because yoga unblocks energy along the spine, releases the life force (prana), and wakes up the nervous and circulatory systems. Who doesn’t need some waking up during the winter months?
After warming up, you can greatly benefit from practicing various active poses to boost energy as well as mood. Some of them include half sun salutation, camel pose, warrior II pose, triangle pose, side plank, chair pose, half-moon pose, bridge post, and locust pose.
Written by Deborah Mitchell. Deborah Mitchell is passionate about personal health and the well-being of animals and the planet. She has authored, coauthored, and ghostwritten more than 40 books, contributes regularly to several websites, and shares information on physical, emotional, and spiritual health on her blog, deborahmitchellbooks.com.
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