Quick tips: Staying active in cold weather
There are plenty of ways to be active in fall and winter, even if the weather turns cold. You can stay in shape and have fun while you’re at it. Here are some ideas:
- Go for walks at the mall with a friend. Local schools and churches may have indoor gyms where you can walk. You may want to buy a pedometer from a sporting goods store. You can use it to count your steps. This will help motivate you to walk more.
- Get some hand weights or stretch bands to use at home for resistance exercise. You can get fit while you watch your favorite TV show or listen to music. Try doing a little more each week. Use cans of food if you don’t want to buy weights.
- Buy or rent an exercise DVD, or borrow one at the library. If you have an MP3 player, you can download audio routines from the Internet. This can be a fun way to stay in shape at home.
- Take the stairs and fit in walk breaks whenever you can. This will give you extra activity, even on a busy day.
- Do active housework like sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, doing laundry, or washing the windows. You can stay active while you keep your home looking good.
- Join a gym or health club. You can use machines like treadmills, stair-climbers, or exercise bikes. Try a fitness class or a new indoor activity, like dancing or water aerobics. Many cities have community centers that offer affordable fitness classes.
- Get involved in sports leagues in your community or at work. Many cities offer indoor sports like basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, or swimming.
- Rake leaves or do other yard work.
- Bundle up, and take the dog for a walk. This can help you make walks part of your daily routine.
- Shovel snow. This can be great winter exercise. But if you have heart problems or other health concerns, be sure to ask your doctor if shoveling snow is okay. Overdoing it can put dangerous strain on your body.
- Try a new winter activity like skating, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing. When you do outdoor activities in less populated areas, be sure to plan ahead. Let people know where you will be, and take the right gear for the conditions.
Dress for cold weather
If you plan to be active outdoors, wear clothes that fit well and keep you warm and dry. For protection, it’s best to wear:
- A warm hat. If it’s very cold, you also may want to wear covering for your face, such as a scarf.
- Layers of clothing to keep you warm. Wear waterproof outer layers to keep you dry.
- Clothing made of wool or polypropylene. These will keep you from losing body heat even if the fabric gets wet. Don’t wear cotton.
- Wool socks and waterproof shoes. Socks and shoes should fit closely but not too tight.
- Mittens rather than gloves. This way, your fingers are together so you can roll them into a fist for warmth.
Check with your doctor before you start a new activity if:
- You have heart problems or other health issues.
- You have not been active in a long time.
Be sure to stop and call your doctor if you have chest pain or feel dizzy during any physical activity. If you have breathing problems like asthma or COPD, ask your doctor before being active in cold weather.
To stay safe, try to do your walking and other activities when it’s light out. Use your lunch break, or do family activities when the kids get out of school. If it’s dark out, walk with a partner.
Be careful not to slip on wet or icy ground. You can buy “grippers” for your shoes to help keep you from slipping. Avoid outdoor activity in extreme cold, and take the windchill into account.
Current as of: November 14, 2014
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine & Heather Chambliss, PhD – Exercise Science