One of the most important parts to staying healthy and losing weight is to get as much activity as possible. You need to keep yourself moving to keep your metabolism going so you can burn more calories. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest. And getting out and being active is great for your mental health it can be relaxing, cathartic, or just plain fun.
Whatever you need it to be. So what can you do when winter rolls around and you can’t get outside to ride your bike? Or if you take a break from running over the winter (icy sidewalks are very dangerous), what can you use to take its place? Here are a few Winter Fitness Tips to get you started.
A lot of people in Colorado downhill ski or snowboard, but have you ever tried nordic skiing? Going cross-country is a great way to burn a lot of calories, as it uses your arms and your legs at all times (not to mention your hips, shoulders, back, and core muscles). In fact, the athletes with the highest vO2 measures (a measure of aerobic capacity) are cross-country skiers.
You can take an introductory class at REI -or just rent a pair of skis and get out on the trails to learn yourself (it’s certainly possible, but be prepared to spend some time on your ass trying to right yourself). And if you’re really up for a challenge, give backcountry or alpine touring a shot.
Another great winter sport for maintaining your fitness (especially if you’re a runner or hiker) is snowshoeing. Snowshoeing is essentially the winter equivalent of hiking all you have to do is strap on your shoes and head out. If there’s enough snow, you could even go on your favorite lowland trails (though you might find better terrain a little higher up).
If you’re feeling very adventurous, or you want to keep your climbing fitness up to snuff during the winter, give ice climbing a try. It’s kind of like rock climbing . . . just on ice. There’s more equipment involved but if climbing is your thing, then this is the way to go.
These three activities are just the tip of the iceberg (so to speak). There are all kinds of other ways to stay active during the cold winter months check out community education and local university offerings to see a long list of things you can try this winter!
Learning o Walk on Ice
Whether we like it or not, winter is almost here. We’ve had a few snowstorms now, and it’s only a matter of time before we get a few more. It’s staying cold at night, too, which means that there’s going to be a lot of snow and ice on sidewalks, driveways, roads, and stairs. Winter is a beautiful time, but it’s important to not only think about the scenery, but about keeping yourself safe while you’re walking, whether it’s at home, around town, or on your way to work. Let these winter walking tips keep you safe and sound this season.
Winter Walking Video
It’s easy to not think about walking as a dangerous activity. We do it all the time, and it’s pretty rare that we have problems with it. However, snow and ice storms can make walking outside dangerous and to keep yourself from taking a hard fall (which can result in all kinds of nasty injuries, including broken bones), it’s important to take a few precautions to keep yourself safe while walking in icy conditions.
How to walk on ice – winter walking tips
The most important winter safety tip that I can offer is also the simplest be aware. Make sure that you know what’s going on around you, especially when it comes to weather. Has it snowed recently? If so, there may be ice under a dusting on the sidewalk. If it’s been very cold especially after a warm spell there are probably ice patches, possibly even where you wouldn’t expect them. Remember to keep your eyes open and watch where you’re going. This is a big first step in staying safe in the winter. Watch for ice patches, and watch for other people who might not be paying as much attention as you are it’s certainly not uncommon for one person who’s slipped on the ice to tumble into several other people.
In addition to being vigilant, you can properly equip yourself. It may seem obvious, but it’s worth saying: don’t wear slick-soled shoes outside in the winter. Get some sturdy winter boots that have a significant tread and some ankle support, or, at the very least, something like Salomon Snow Moc Shoe which our Editor loves and swears by!!
Ideally, however, you’ll wear something mid- or high-cut with a warm lining (they may be expensive, but trust me it’s totally worth it). Another option that will increase your traction (though they won’t keep your feet warm) is to use YakTrax or some other over-shoe mechanism.
My last piece of advice is to choose your walking route carefully. If you walk to work, try to walk along major roads, where the sidewalks are more likely to have been plowed and salted. If your city doesn’t have a public sidewalk-clearing service, be extra careful, as a lot of people might not be motivated enough to salt the sidewalks in front of their houses. Avoid heavily shaded areas, as they’re extra cold and are more likely to form ice.
Keep these things in mind after we get hit with the first big storm of the year, and you’ll be much less likely to find yourself nursing a bruised knee or a twisted ankle this winter. Be safe out there!
Pre-Season Ski Training
With ski season ramping up, many people are starting to think about their fitness and whether they’ll be huffing and puffing when they hit the slopes later this winter. And while the most dedicated skiers will train throughout the entire off-season, you still have a chance to build up a bit of strength and endurance before you hit the big stuff.
Dr. Alex Meininger, the US Ski Team physician, graciously agreed to give us some pointers on how to prepare for ski season. The US team spends a lot of time training in the off-season, he says, and they focus on exercises that will help them out in their events.
“The speed athletes competing in downhill events will have a heavy emphasis on strength training including squats, lunges, etc., during gym workouts. Endurance athletes such as Nordic and cross-country may spend less time in the weight room and more time focused on aerobic fitness. For instance, the Nordic combined athletes are often competitive road cyclists in the off-season.” learning how to Nordic ski is easier than you may think. Give it a try this year
Dr. Meininger says that the same principles apply to casual skiers and that fitness gained during the off-season will benefit performance on the slopes. This is especially true with endurance training, as it helps skiers stay on the slopes longer and enables them to take on longer, more challenging runs without tiring out, especially at altitude.
So what kinds of workouts does Dr. Meininger recommend for us mortals? “I encourage people to undertake whatever program works for them. Some people thrive in a group/class environment . . . on the other hand, some people prefer to do more on their own or can’t accommodate a class in their busy schedule.”
He mentioned a number of group fitness classes, including CrossFit, Barre, P90X, and Manic Training, as great ways to gain fitness and stay motivated with a social element. If a gym is too expensive or not feasible due to time constraints, a combination of exercises can take the place of a class.
“The necessary ingredients include core work, stretching and strengthening. Isometrics like a wall-sit with your back against a wall and knees bent 90 degrees can be incredibly difficult if held for 30-60 seconds, for instance. Hill sprints, or stair climbs, can help aerobic fitness. Lastly, plyometrics such as high jumps, step-ups, and box jumps can produce powerful gains in strength.”
Dr. Meininger also stressed the importance of speaking with your doctor before starting an exercise program. He said that the majority of injuries suffered in classes like CrossFit are sustained by people who start too quickly or get in over their head. Knowing when you need to rest and understanding proper form are required, too.
So when you’re trying to get that last bit of fitness to help you power through ski season, take Dr. Meininger’s advice: combine core work, strengthening, endurance, and plyometrics to exercise all of the important muscles and systems that you need for successful skiing.
Check out the video above to see a few exercises that he recommends for building up the strength and power you need to crush the slopes this year. Stay safe out there!