As December rolls into the heart of winter, temperatures plummet and cloudy skies, bearing showers of rain and sleet, drive us deep into the comfort of our homes. It isn’t hard to imagine any number of excuses you could conjure up to skip your 6 am run in such dismal weather. A recent poll shows that over the last decade, there has consistently been a significant change in the proportion of Americans who exercise for at least three days a week when comparing the summer and winter months of each year.
Clearly, the paralysis of winter affects our daily habits more than we may realize. Common sense argues that our bodies benefit from and require consistent daily exercise to function optimally. The advantages of regular exercise are simply too great to put on hold whenever working out becomes an inconvenience.
From mid-September through the early reaches of spring, nearly a fifth of the American population experience a natural mental illness known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Characterized by depression, fatigue, and weight gain, SAD is thought to be triggered by a decrease in the amount of natural sunlight during winter months.
It is generally understood that this change in the amount of daylight both disturbs the body’s circadian rhythm and imbalances neurotransmitter levels in our brains such as serotonin. Luckily, as with most forms of depression, exercise is a great way to improve your mood and energy levels. Although leaving your cozy room might seem like a daunting task, it is even more crucial to get sufficient exercise when we are naturally disinclined to do so. Here are a few ideas to get your winter fitness plan started.
1. Home Gym
If you just can’t seem to find it in you to muster up and push yourself out of the front door to exercise, then don’t! By taking advantage of Argus’ built-in home workout player, you can create and follow along to workouts catered to your schedule and comfort. Even throughout the rest of the year, these quick and manageable workouts can be utilized whenever you are particularly strapped for time. Invest in a small set of equipment at home or just clean up the apartment to get a bit of movement into your limbs.
The holidays, especially around Christmas, are a time to appreciate the opportunities and blessings granted us in life. Whether it’s serving the less fortunate at your local soup kitchen, collecting neighborhood food bank donations, or even helping out at a local children’s hospital, volunteering is a great way to get on your feet and contribute to your community.
Not only will you have made a tangible difference in someone’s life, but with a newfound sense of gratification, you should be better equipped to deal with those wintertime blues. Check out Volunteering in America to discover ways for you to get involved immediately.
3. Indoor Pool
Although swimming is a truly versatile form of exercise that engages our body’s entire core, outdoor pools and beaches are often left abandoned during the winter, too frigid to be stomached by most swimmers. Applying for membership or taking lessons at a swimming club, almost certain to have a heated pool, is a surefire way to keep in taut shape over the winter. Covering your own membership costs also creates a sense of accountability, and if you never learned how to swim, it’s never too late to start.
4. Winter Sports
Each year between the months of December and late March, the white slopes of Lake Tahoe swell with the thousands of skiers and snowboarders who’ve waited all year long for this moment. While winter sports might not be the best option for older and inexperienced individuals, the fast paced engagement between your muscles and balance make for a truly exhilarating workout.
For those with the finesse and experience, ice skating is another fantastic way to exercise control over your entire body.
5. Fitness Class
The thought of driving through the rain or snow, just to spend an hour at the gym all by yourself can dissuade even regular gym-goers when the weather begins to turn sour. Signing up for a yoga or cardio kickboxing class at your gym creates a social environment where motivation is cultivated between individuals. Most gyms boast a huge variety of class types for you to choose from, but regardless, in the end it just matters that you got out there. Enroll with a friend and keep each other accountable to further increase your chances of success.
Hopefully, these suggestions have given you somewhere to start as you prepare your fitness plans this winter. Just remember, when you’re cooped up inside the house feeling glum about the weather, a spot of exercise might just do the trick.
Main Photo Credit: Death to Stock; Second Photo Credit: Death to Stock; Third Photo Credit: Shutterstock; Fourth Photo Credit: Shutterstock