Unfortunately, exercising in the winter is uncomfortable and can be unsafe. Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia, while slippery sidewalks increase the risk for falls. Luckily, there are alternative exercises you can do during the winter months to keep yourself in top physical and emotional form. Some require outdoor excursions, but you can do most in the privacy and comfort of your own home.
Use a treadmill or stationary bike
A treadmill is a great way to walk during the winter without the danger of slipping on the ice. Treadmills allow you to walk, jog or run depending on your abilities and fitness goals. Using a treadmill at high speed does cause both feet to leave the ground, however, thereby creating a high-impact workout that can lead to stress fractures.
Stationary bikes are also great ways to work out during the winter months. The new breed of recumbent exercise bicycles feature a comfortable, reclined seat position and a firm seat back that provides support to your back, shoulders and neck. These bikes feature a low center of gravity that place riders near the floor, with their legs extended forward, which is a much safer and more comfortable position for seniors with mobility issues. Stationary bicycles work the abdominal, gluteal and hamstring muscles in a way that reduces lower back pain.
Fitness videos and video games
Fitness videos and video games are fun and easy to use. Fitness videos that provide short, structured workout segments are best, as they do not require a long-term commitment – you can combine segments for longer workout sessions. Video games, such as Wii Bowling, provide a good physical workout, while Xbox games improve hand-eye coordination and keep the brain sharp.
When inclement weather prevents you from walking outdoors, try walking at your local mall. Other locations within your community may allow indoor walking, too. Contact your local department of education to find out if schools in your area allow walking after school hours. Many museums offer reduced rates one day each week.
Your church may even have facilities you can use for indoor walking. Start a walking group within your church and create a carpooling schedule. Exercising with a group keeps you on track and is a lot more fun than exercising alone.
Turn on your favorite music, close the shades and get moving. Dancing improves the condition of your heart and lungs, improves muscular strength and endurance and strengthens bones to reduce the risk for osteoporosis. Strong muscles reduce your risk for falls during the winter months while strong bones lessen the risk for fractures in the event that you do fall. Dancing also burns calories to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. In just one half hour of ballroom dancing, for example, the average 155-pound person burns about 112 calories.
For safety reasons, and to maximize fun, you should always dance or do other exercises with a partner. Group exercise keeps you motivated and interested. Engaging in regular alternative exercise, alone or with others, is a great way to stay healthy and happy during the long, cold winter months.
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