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Outdoor Winter Activities to help you stay fit

Posted Dec 11 2010 1:09am

Those of us who are “lucky” enough to live in a place where weather extremes exist (variable scalding hot and blistering cold temperatures) know that our workouts can change from season to season.  Particularly in winter, some of us will be confined to the indoors while others will still seek to find their adrenaline rush throughout the coldest of days.  For those of you who love the outdoors or are interested in some healthy activities that are fueled by the cold, below is a list of activities you can do in the winter to keep yourself in shape.

1) Snowshoeing

-          Trekking through the depths of snow works your leg muscles as well as increases your heart rate.  If you want to get a serious workout in, bring a partner along so you can motivate each other to keep a steady pace going.  A 30 minute hike is a great way to get your cardio in for the day.

-          Snowshoeing doesn’t have to be an intense workout, it can also be a great activity for a group of people; bring your friends or family along to check out the wintery sites in your local park.

-           Go to your local parks and recreation center to see if there are trails in the area that you can rent snowshoes at.

2) Cross-Country Skiing

-          Cross Country skiing is one of the most demanding winter sports that anyone can do.  Heck, it’s an Olympic sport!  What you put into your workout (no matter what it is) is reflective of what you are going to get out of it.  If you want to train for a winter cross-country skiing race, all power to you.  There are tons of races throughout the year that are calling your name.  The intensity of the training regimen is sure to work your entire body.  However, just like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing can also just be a great way to just get outside, explore a park or simply check out the scenery without the stress of competition bearing down on you.

3) Running Outdoors

-          To further your safety while running, find a nice area that you can run and be safe in.  Big neighborhoods are always a good choice.  The elaborate houses decorated to the 9s with their seasonal cheer can always put someone in the winter spirit.  Also, most of the time the roads and sidewalks will be shoveled, plowed and even salted for your running needs.

-          If you don’t want to run through the neighborhoods, try sticking to some of the main roads or for a much more peaceful run check out the path “over the river and thru the woods.”  Let someone know where you are headed before you go and, as long as you know it to be safe, the path to grandma’s house will probably be a rewarding journey!

4) Shoveling

-          It is a necessary evil.  Shoveling can help tone your body significantly! Just remember to implement proper mechanics – being sure to bend at your legs and not your back!   If you shovel incorrectly there is a high percent that you will throw out your back.  In that case you’ll likely sit out the rest of the winter season from exercises, stuck on the couch.  While you might find great joy cuddling up in your “Snuggie” drinking hot cocoa and baileys -fully taking advantage of the laziness associated with having an injury – just remember all of the fun you might miss out on with friends and family during the holidays as a result of suffering an exercise related injury.  Use caution!J   On a side note, shoveling is also a great way to get on your neighbors good side, and will make you feel good about helping those around you.  Perfect for the holiday season!

5) Downhill Skiing/Snowboarding/Sledding

-     Many families like to plan vacations during the winter.  If you have decided to go to a ski resort, skiing, snowboarding, and sledding are fun ways to be outdoors and get a workout in.   Stay active during your trip, take lessons and stay on the slopes all day long, and then end your evening snuggling up next to the fire place.

-     If you are naturally fit individual, none of these actitivies should be too difficult for you.  Snowboarding and skiing rely a lot on ab and leg strength, along with flexibility.  If you want to tone up your abs and leg muscles before your trip do some exercises from your home gym.

Megan Gates is an outreach representative for Gym Source (gymsource.com) – a leading retailer of home gyms and various other exercise and fitness equipment .  Megan contributes written work to the blogosphere related to health and fitness.

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