As the weather cools down you probably won’t be spending as much time outside. Combine that with ongoing social distancing, and even if you plan on going to the gym—both hours and capacity are limited. Not to worry as you have plenty of fun options to choose from.
Fitness Isn’t Just For Weight Loss
Weight loss and weight maintenance may be a goal, but regular physical fitness is about so much more than the number on the scale. Don’t just focus on your weight, but how your go-to physical activities make you feel.
- Stretching and cardiovascular exercise help keep your heart healthy.
- Working out increases the oxygen in your blood, making you feel energized.
- Fitness stimulates the release of endorphins that minimize physical pain.
- Increasing the oxygen in your brain boosts your mood and decreases anxiety and depression.
- Strength training improves body mechanics, improves balance, and protects your bones.
- Stretching, strengthening, and range of motion exercises release and minimize tension and stress.
- Targeted workouts help minimize the strain and pain of repetitive movements or the negative effects of our lifestyle—such as standing or sitting all day at work.
- Physical activities that combine strategy or creative thinking, such as dance or sports, are good for your mind and body.
Make A Few Investments
Begin by taking inventory of your current at-home fitness equipment. At the very least, you need to have a fitness mat, but there are a variety of inexpensive exercise options to choose from. Not to worry if you are tight on space as many of the items below can fit in a closet or under the bed. All can be found online or ordered in stores such as Target, Walmart, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx.
- Workout-specific mat
- Balance ball
- Mini toning ball
- Barbell, kettlebell, or free weights
- Resistance band
- Yoga block
- Pilates ring
- Ab roller
- Workout bench
Larger investments include upgrading your fitness shoes, workout clothing, a treadmill, elliptical machine, stationary bike, all-in-one weight machine, ab machine, or TRX system. Be sure to check online for used fitness equipment, which is often an investment people make but don’t use much—so like new at a fraction of the price.
Mix Up Your At-Home Fitness Options
Variety is the spice of life, especially when working out at home. Making a few of the investments above will expand your options—but having the right gear and equipment isn’t enough. Too often we find an at-home workout we love and go all-in, but at some point, the monotony becomes too repetitive, which can leave you feeling unmotivated.
Mix things up by digging out your old fitness DVDs and add them to the mix. Then explore your digital options. YouTube has countless mini and full workouts. Browse by the workout type you prefer, fitness goal, or area of your body you want to target. Don’t forget fun and new options such as dance or martial arts.
Streaming websites and app subscriptions are on the rise, and many will be on sale for the New Year. Look for an app in a fitness medium you enjoy, such as yoga or Pilates, or sign up for a site that has a mix of fitness options. If you get bored, cancel your subscription and subscribe somewhere else.
Workout In A Group
Working out with an instructor and other class members will challenge you and elevate your workout. Amid social distancing, it will also help you to feel more connected. So, consider hiring a virtual personal trainer. Many fitness studies host socially distanced group classes, most of which require pre-registration. Even if it’s only one group class or training session per week, it will have an impact.
If not a group class, find a workout buddy. This could be a friend or someone who enjoys the same workout as you. There are several apps that help you find local workout buddies. You and your buddy could live stream a virtual class, do an outdoor workout together, or head to a social distance physical activity together.
Do A Few Winter Activities
With the right winter fitness gear, you can walk, jog, run, hike, cycle, and play a variety of sports outside. In addition to these traditional outdoor fitness options, consider a few active winter options. This includes everything from playing in the snow to shoveling snow, ice skating, sledding, skiing, snowball fights, and snowshoeing.
Working out 4 to 6 days per week for at least 30 minutes, combining cardio and strength training is the overall goal. In addition to your structured workouts, you should mix in at least one or two mini 5 or 10 minute workouts per day. Your mini workout is something you should be able to do without breaking a sweat, and ideally in your office or WFH attire.
It might not sound like much, but with our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, your mini workout will increase your circulation and minimize the stress and strain on your body. It will also increase the oxygen in your bloodstream which will boost your mood, increase your energy levels, and can help you clear your mind or shift gears without taking too long of a break. If you sit or stand for extended periods of time at work, mini workouts should be targeted to minimize the strain of sitting and standing. This includes:
- Taking a 10 minute walk around the block
- Stretch exercises
- AM or PM yoga poses
- Seated or standing office exercises
- A 10 minute app exercise
- Range of motion movements
Schedule It In
Just like any other time of year, staying fit this winter will require you to make fitness a priority. Between the cold weather and ongoing social distancing, it may be more challenging to stay motivated. By adding your workouts to your weekly schedule, you will be more likely to stick with it. Before you create your workout schedule, consider what time of day your workout is most beneficial for you, or when you are most motivated and less likely to skip it. For example, if you are a morning person a workout is an excellent way to start your day. Or you may prefer to work out after you are done with work for the day, as part of your transition from work to personal time.
Taking A Whole Body Approach To Health
In addition to physical fitness, health requires a commitment to your mind, body, and spirit. Other ways to support your body include:
- Self-care such as massage, steam, or Epsom salt baths.
- Prioritizing your sleep is beneficial for your mind and body.
- Affirmations, mantras, and meditation.
- Prioritizing your mental health with traditional and alternative therapy.
- Spiritual practices including meditation, prayer, and gratitude journaling.
- When it comes to nutrition, allow yourself to indulge, say “no” to deprivation diets, and eat healthy whole foods.
- Turn to nature to address individual mind, body, and spiritual needs—such as burning incense, smudging your home, drinking herbal teas, transitioning to natural skincare and beauty products, and using CBD to soothe your mind and body.
Here’s to staying healthy, active, and balanced this winter!