Health: Getting Ready for Winter

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Even though the weather outside is still relatively warm, winter is only a few weeks away. And winter can play havoc with your exercise program if you are not prepared to tackle the problems that come with it.

Although some people have aerobic exercise equipment in their homes, most rely on the outdoors for their aerobic workouts. When the rain begins to fall, the wind begins to blow and the temperatures drop, it becomes easy to excuse yourself from your daily aerobic routine. You begin working out less, just as you appetite begins to increase from the cold. As you increase your caloric intake, you will be burning fewer calories, leading to weight gain.

So how are we to cope?  Even if you have no exercise equipment, there is plenty you can do in the way of indoors aerobic exercise. Since most of us here in Israel live in apartment buildings, we have access to staircases. If you have three or four flights of stairs, try going up the stairs, two at a time if you can, and then walk down slowly for recovery. Do four to six sets. Another alternative is running in place for several minutes. Good old simple Jumping Jacks are also aerobic. Or try sitting yourself in the push-up position but alternate right and left to bring your knees up to your chest. As you return one side, bring up the other. This is called the sliding ski stretch. It is desirable to integrate all of these different types of exercises into a 25-30 minute routine.

In addition to the aerobics, couple your aerobic routine with some resistance training.  Do abdominal exercises as well as push-ups and dips, and use a simple band to work other muscles.  It is good to intersperse these exercises within your aerobic routine – something we call circuit training.  For instance, you can do 4 sets of stairs, and then do your abs.  Then you can run/jog in place for 5 minutes and do your push-ups and dips.  Follow this with some jumping jacks and sliding ski stretches, and general stretches after you have finished.  This is a quick and easy way to stay in shape no matter what the weather is outside. 

And as far as the outside goes, if you want to brave the cold, dress appropriately.  Gloves and warm sweat clothes are a good idea.  Either a hood or ski hat will help you retain your body heat, which escapes through your head.  Be careful to stay hydrated even though it’s cold.  If you want to workout in the rain, be sure to wear waterproof exercise wear. 

Don’t let the winter add up to more calories consumed and less expended.  Be vigilant in your workout and try to keep your caloric consumption in check.  Fresh hot soups and herbal teas can help curb your appetite.  And remember – exercising and staying active in the winter are great ways to stay nice and warm. 

Staying in good shape during the winter is another way to “add hours to your day, days to your yea, and years to your life.” 

Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E.* CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER and a LIFESTYLE FITNESS COACH with over 14 years of professional experience. He is the co-director of the Jerusalem-based weight loss and stress reduction center Lose It! along with Linda Holtz M.Sc. and is available for private consultations, assessments and personalized workout programs. Alan also lectures and gives seminars and workshops. He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at [email protected]  Check out the Lose It! web site – www.loseit.co.il.  US Line: 516-568-5027.

* American Council on Exercise