It’s Anti-Hibernation Time! Five Tips for Winter Fitness

Between winter’s chill and short days, it can be hard to get motivated to exercise. Plus, the body just seems to want to hunker down in low-key mode after the holidays—maybe it’s a residual hibernation instinct? But staying fit in the winter is not as hard, and not as complicated, as you might think.

Here are five ways to warm up the winter blahs and stay fit in the colder months.

  1. Hit the Trail. The cooler, non-buggy months are the perfect time to explore walking, hiking and jogging trails around the Lowcountry. You don’t have to worry about overheating and getting too much sun (though sunscreen is always recommended), and the woods and marshes have a serene winter beauty that is calming and rejuvenating. There are numerous trails for walking, jogging or biking in The Francis Marion National Forest and in the many Charleston County parks. Or just toss on a windbreaker and head to the beach. Walking is a great way to exercise the body and clear the mind, and get to know the natural world a little better too.
  2. Stretch your Muscles. Stretching is an integral part of overall fitness, but it often gets overlooked. The slower pace of wintertime is ideal for learning better stretching habits and routines. A yoga or Pilates class can be a good introduction, or just start simple and stretch out on the floor. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just listen to your body and focus on the usual suspects: tight hamstrings, lower back and shoulders. A quick web search will give you specific stretching exercises.
  3. Dance! Whether it’s that ballroom dance class you’ve always thought about, or Zumba, Nia or ballet, or just Dance e Revolution on your kid’s X-Box or Wii, there’s no more fun way to stay fit than to dance. It’ll help with rhythm and balance, get your heart rate up and put a smile on your face.
  1. Keep It Simple. Winter is a great time to pare down, especially after the holidays. Despite a huge industry that wants you to spend a lot of money to join a gym or buy a workout package or pricey workout clothes, some of the best ways to exercise are also the cheapest and simplest. Such as: A jump rope – which costs under $10, and can be done virtually anywhere; Taking the stairs – no cost at all (Tip—go to a downtown parking garage and do a few stair repeats, rewarding yourself with a beautiful view at the top); Walking (see number 1).
  1. Seems ironic, right? A how-to-stay- fit article suggesting that you take it easy and rest. But winter is the perfect time to back off a little from your regular exercise routine and focus on rest as a crucial part of fitness and a healthy immune system. Use winter’s early sunsets as an excuse to get to bed earlier and improve your sleep habits. A better-rested body enhances mood and overall health, and performs better when you do go for that run or hit the gym.