Winter Exercise Options

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By Dr. Sender Deutsch
Published on January 20, 2016

exerciseI love the wintertime, especially since one of my favourite winter activities is to trek outside in an old pair of running shoes or hiking boots.  I usually like to power walk or run through the snow-filled trails that exist in our beautiful city.

It takes a great deal of effort in order to work out in the snow.  We need to have strength to lift and push through it as we walk/run and fighting the wind can even replicate walking uphill.  All of this requires a great deal of energy equating to more caloric expenditure.  However, this form of exercise is very low impact, which is easy on the body – especially your back.  There is no cost to it and it takes very little time to get going.  You can even go into your backyard or neighbourhood park, which is something that is easy and fast for all of us to do.  Dress for the climate and you are ready to go!

We want to try exercises that use more muscle activation and force us to use both the upper and lower body at the same time.  When you activate more muscles and utilize your body mass, the oxygen demands increase and you burn more calories.

Other low impact options that are very safe and easy on your neck and back are the following:

  1. Cross country skiing

This is a phenomenal workout as you are using both your arms and legs at the same time and the motion is the same as walking.  It is great for activation of the back extensor muscles.  Cross country skiers have big aerobic engines and some have the highest V02 max scores (which are a direct measure of your aerobic capacity of getting oxygen to your muscles) of any athletes .

  1. Skating

Great for developing glute and leg strength, which supports the pelvis and spine.  It is a fun exercise that can be done at your local outdoor rinks.  You can do various exercises on skates such as squats, lunges, pivots,
turns.  Skating enhances your balance and proprioception as you do all the movements on a very fine blade.

  1. Snowshoeing

Works very similarly to cross country skiing.

  1. Fat bikes

A new activity that replicates mountain biking with big fat tires that allow cyclists to continue on trails or in the park through the winter. It’s a challenging exercise, but you need to be careful and go on powder and not when the conditions are icy as falling off of the bike could cause serious damage to your body.

  1. Have a snowball fight with family and friends!snowball fight

Go hard for 5 minutes and recover for a couple of minutes., Just like an MMA fight. You can do this for a few rounds to simulate a match.  This will push you hard.

  1. Walking outside

Go to a local golf course and power walk the course using poles.  This will simulate cross-country skiing where you are using your upper and lower body.

  1. Play flag football or soccer in the snow.

The added resistance of dressing up in layers and propelling your body forward through the snow will increase the exercise demands.

  1. Shovelling the driveway

A great activity if you are careful.  Make sure you bend from the hips and use your glutes to push the shovel through the snow.  Again, it is a wonderful way to burn calories as you are using both your lower and upper body together.

  1. Skiing

When we finally get our big snowstorm, visit your local ski club and simply walk uphill against gravity, really focusing on pumping your arms.  Holding poles or dumbbells will increase the intensity.

  1. Circuit training

When faced with bad weather or if you are simply a fair weather exerciser, create a circuit of 4 exercises. Squats, push-ups, lunges and band pulls in your home, doing 20 reps of each for 20 minutes will give you a great burn and fight the holiday bulge.  Other options include skipping rope or running up flights of stairs with 10 push-ups atop each flight.

Remember, don’t let the holidays sabotage your workout regimen and ensure you fight the holiday weight gain epidemic.  Any extra pounds you gain during the holidays will put excessive pressure on your neck, back and joints.  This can increase your risk for developing pain, which is not what we want at this joyous time of year.

All the best to you and your families!  Wishing you all good health and happiness in 2016.

Dr. Sender Deutsch

winter stretching