winter exercise

It’s no secret that many New Year’s resolutions involve being more active--especially as an aspect in losing weight. But it might be hard to get started for those who would rather not join a gym as they feel “stuck” inside or weary of heading outdoors in the cold and snow. Here are a few ideas for you to experience something new, have fun while doing it, and get that heart rate up.

When people think of outdoor, winter activities, most minds go straight to skiing and snowboarding (especially in Northwest Vermont). However, those sports can be time consuming, require training and a lot of practice, and will likely end up being more expensive than the gym. However, there are plenty of alternatives for winter exercise one can enjoy in the Green Mountain State.

A more common activity is ice skating--which can be done indoors or out. If you’re new to it, we suggest finding a local rink that offers skate rentals and possibly quick, cheap lessons to get going. If you give it a try and find out that it’s something up your alley, you can purchase your own pair of blades, head to an area pond, and get some fresh air while getting a taste of skating’s original days. But please: use caution before getting out on the ice. It’s recommended that the ice be about 4-5 inches thick, has a clear-blue color to it, and doesn’t have running water anywhere nearby. Reach out to local authorities that may monitor conditions to find out whether or not a certain body of water is safe to be on.

Going back to alleys: bowling may not hike your heart rate up as highly as, say--hiking--but it’s an option for you to stay indoors, get moving, and have some fun. While there has been an increase in the number of Vermont alleys that have closed over recent years, there are still plenty around which also offer something to do after the early sunset.

An excellent outdoor activity for the winter time that’s often forgotten about, or considered obsolete, is snowshoeing. It’s a great way to get the body moving and work up a sweat without struggling to trudge through the snow. There are many places, locally, where you can borrow snowshoes for free--including towns’ recreational departments and libraries. Find a pair, strap them on, and traverse across a nearby park or field to get those steps in. It’s a unique activity that you can only do for so long before the weather warms up--but one that will provide you and your friends or family a special memory that will last long past the final snowfall.

If you decide to exercise outdoors, it’s vital to keep a few things in mind. One is to not only stay warm, but--possibly more importantly--to stay dry. Being cold and wet can increase your chances of getting hypothermia or frostbite. Try to avoid wearing cotton which will absorb water and sweat and hold in that moisture. Instead, look to wear synthetic fibers such as polyester, nylon, and polypropylene designed to dry quickly.

Also, make sure to protect your extremities (ears, nose, fingers, and toes), cover up your skin while outside and moisturize it afterwards when you’re inside, and check your traction--making sure you aren’t walking or running in potentially-slick and unsafe areas. And, as always, stay hydrated. You may not feel the need for water during or after a workout the same way as you would in warmer weather, but it’s imperative to replace the fluids that you lose through sweat and breathing in low-temperature conditions.

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