How Do You Stay Fit in Winter? [Win a signed copy of Foodist]

by | Jan 27, 2014

Photo by bgbabygirl

Earlier this month I was at the farmers market and asked one of my favorite farmers how he’s doing. “I’ve been out of water for a month,” he told me. “And I won’t have more until it rains. I’m looking for new land.”

It’s been two weeks since then, not a drop of water has fallen, and smoke has filled the skies from the wildfires in the hills.

We aren’t having winter in California this year.

While 75 degree days in January sounds awesome on the surface, it certainly comes with its downsides. As I stroll to the gym each day in a t-shirt and sunglasses hoping that my post-workout shower water won’t be rationed, my brain struggles to imagine what it’s like to fight blizzards and the polar vortex.

That said, even though snow and ice make me feel like a fish out of water, I can guarantee you that I’d figure out a way to get my workouts in regardless of weather.

We all face different challenges to staying fit year round, and we each have to find strategies that work for us and our particular situation. This presents an excellent opportunity to harness the power of the internet and the collective wisdom of Summer Tomato readers to share ideas and solutions.

If you have a specific problem or obstacle making your healthstyle more difficult, you certainly aren’t alone. Similarly, if you’ve overcome a particular healthstyle barrier, there are likely dozens (if not hundreds or thousands) of other people who would benefit from knowing your solution.

If you’ve come up with a way to get regular exercise, 10,000 steps, or stay physically active despite the chilly, icy weather in your town please share your solution in the comments below.

Next week I’ll compile a list of the best suggestions and post it here at Summer Tomato. I’ll also send a free signed copy of Foodist to the person who impresses me the most. (I can’t ship internationally, but you’re welcome to use something like this).

My hope is that by this time next week we’ll have an arsenal of amazing tips to stay in shape throughout the colder months.

How do you stay fit in the winter?


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98 Responses to “How Do You Stay Fit in Winter? [Win a signed copy of Foodist]”

  1. Jeanie says:

    I am retired, living in remote northern Michigan, so no gyms or classes in
    my world. With artificial knees, I cannot risk falling, ergo no outdoor activity for me in winter other than using the snowblower. But inside I can go up & down basement steps, stretching, isometrics, resistance bands, balance work, kettlebells, body-blades. I do miss not being able to lie on the floor for some exercises, but I have learned to modify and adjust. With this cold snap, it’s a job resisting the urge to park my keister by the fireplace next to the cats. I figure ANYTHING I do is a plus, and staying limber and flexible
    is crucial. I can walk again in the spring.

  2. I keep my focus on fitness during the cold winter days by pairing my workouts with friendship. My favorite strategy for winter fitness – set a goal and pursue it with a friend. In addition to our routine workouts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, my friend and I have both signed up for a 10K run/walk in late March. On Sunday mornings, we meet for a run and then prepare a healthy breakfast together at her home and share in cozy conversation. We swap recipes and encourage each other toward our mutual goal of fitness for life.

  3. Paula says:

    First, I walk to the gym/pool. It’s a cold walk, but I remind myself that it won’t be cold in the building and I definitely won’t be cold after a few minutes of cardio.

    On days when the snow is too deep to walk, I stay at home. I turn up the radiator and do my own version of hot yoga.

  4. Mark says:

    Since I travel a lot with work, having a routine that I can use anywhere is the best option. The weather outside doesn’t matter and no special equipment or facilities are required. I’ve accomplished this routine in tiny hotel rooms and fantastic gyms with fancy equipment. Having a routine like this cuts down on excuses for working out, but I still find it easier to be consisten if I do it every other day instead of every day. I adapt the routine slightly based on what equipment or facilities are available. You can use lots of the workout machines to exercise the same muscles if you have them available, but most of the time I don’t. So, I do push-ups; squats using my computer backpack or dumbbells for extra weight; curls with dumbbells or computer backpack or a chair (careful not to hit myself or anything in the room); calf raises with one leg at a time; lunges with dumbbells or computer backpack for extra weight; pull-ups if I have a bar or door frame that works (otherwise this gets dropped); sit-ups sideways, crossing, and straight on an declined bench or with feet under a bed or table; leg extensions up and out without touching them to the floor while laying on my back; Superman pose, living arms out and up forward with legs up off the floor, with only abdomain touching the bed or floor; dips from the edge of a chair or low table; finally followed by a cardio workout on an elliptical, treadmill, bike, up/down hotel stairwell, or outside run. I finish with a series of stretches.

  5. Shelby says:

    Working out in the winter hasn’t become a problem for me since I found the best work-out regime I’ve ever tried in my life: martial arts! I have never been so excited to go exercise as I have been since I started training in the discipline of Krav Maga. Instead of mindlessly burning calories for the sake of being fit or healthy, Krav engages my brain as I learn new skills in self defense. Loving the exercise I’m doing is the best motivation to keep doing it, no matter what time of the year.

  6. Heather Keppler says:

    I belong to an indoor bootcamp that meets in a gym twice a week. They also send out an at home work out. I save the at home work outs and do those on days I can not get to the gym since I have three little ones at home. I also hate running on the treadmill but I have a list of sprint workouts that I don’t mind doing on the treadmills and I do those twice a week. I also try to hit a yoga class at least once a week. The workouts I do at home or at the gym are HIIT style classes (high intensity interval training). I also follow several fitness people on facebook who send out challenges that I like to try and participate in as well.

  7. Sarah says:

    I have downstairs neighbors who work at home, so cold temperatures present a challenge for me in keeping active. I can’t just use a loud treadmill or stomp around with a Zumba DVD. But I have a new standing desk that should help burn some extra calories even while I’m quietly working.

    I still try to walk most of my errands (may need thermal underwear for that one!). Our condo has nice concrete stairwells that most people here avoid like they have Avian flu in them, so I can get ten or more minutes of stair-climbing without getting in anyone’s way. I also sometimes just do the upper body punching moves in kickboxing DVD’s. And of course, I can still lift weights, do yoga or pilates, etc. without making any loud noises.

  8. Jim F says:

    For me, living in Minnesota the last two years, I have had to shovel an average of two to three times a week. I shovel when I can instead of starting the snow blower, saving the blower for larger snow falls. Shoveling for an hour is a pretty good workout and I think I get as much or more out of it as going to the “Y”.

  9. Lisa B. says:

    Unfortunately, I’m struggling to get fit period :) After years of horrendous fatigue I was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and a few years later, Fibromyalgia. During this period I quit exercising, ate what I CRAVED – sugar and carbs – and watched my weight b-a-l-l-o-o-n. I’ve experimented a lot trying to find some exercise I can tolerate and am currently working on yoga.

    I recently stumbled upon your site and have really enjoyed reading your posts and mining for suggestions which is exactly what I did with the above comments. I figure if I’m getting this much out of your blog then your book is a must read! Thanks much for your insight.

  10. Ramon Smith says:

    Try snowboarding or skiing.And don’t forget your helmet!

  11. Mary L says:

    I committed to 30 day of Yoga which has been amazing. I am at the half way mark and will continue my daily practice once I reach my 30th day. Also have given up Sugar, Dairy, Gluten, Caffeine.. amazing journey as I experiment with veggies and spices. Love Foodist and Summer tomato!

  12. Emily says:

    While I’m no longer in Michigan for the winters (in Oregon for school) I keep up the same winter workout routine: lots of dancing and winter sports! It is so much easier to work out when going snowboarding for the day or to a dance class in the evening. Now that I’m out west I’ve traded the board for winter hiking, but it has still been a great way to get outdoors and work out.
    Now if only I could get my dance class to happen more frequently than just on Thursdays.

  13. David says:

    Good question. I live in a small north town and there is such a long winter from October to April. Maybe it sounds crazy but in subzero 25 degrees we also play basketball outside! And even it snows! So I thought the problem isn’t the weather but your choice. If you want to exercise, just do it. Weather will never stop you.

  14. Kaitlin W says:

    Weather permitting, I go to the gym to do cardio such as running on the treadmill or using the elliptical. Most days I also do yoga and pilates at home. I have also been planking every day for a little longer than the day before to work my core and arms.

    Another trick: I work on the second floor of an office building so every time I need to use the restroom I go to either the first or third floor so that I can work my joints and muscles by using the stairs. Same goes for when I arrive and leave work: I never take the elevator and only use the stairs.

  15. I try and walk everywhere I can. Take the stairs, not the elevator. When it’s snowy and icy out it can be hard to jog, so I will do a lot more indoor type exercises even though I prefer outdoor activity.

  16. Gary Zdral says:

    I grew up in Michigan and I know the challenges of working out in the cold.

    Of course you can do indoor stuff at the gym or even in your home.

    As far as outdoor activities go, you would be surprised that once you get past the first few minutes of activity the cold feelings go away.

    Its really mind over matter. Did you see the football game the other week where guys played in sub zero temperatures? The quarterback for San Francisco didn’t even wear sleeves.

    I remember running in the cold and yes the first two minutes can be horrible but once you get going you heat up pretty quickly and before you know it you are sweating – even if its 20 degrees out.

    Cold or warm I always recommend that you do something fun that can substitute for exercise. In cold weather go skiing, play hockey or just get into a snowball fight.

    Use common sense. You can exercise when its 20-30 degrees but if its 20 below zero then stay indoors and do what you can inside.

  17. I’m a 23-year old accountant in NYC. Winters are challenging since we work long hours (plus some weekends) with 8 PM being “early”, most of which is spent sitting, eat takeout a lot, and lose sleep. I can’t afford a gym membership and my home “gym” is 4′ x 7′ wooden floor, 2 dumbbells, a kettleball, and a mat.

    I think the trick to staying healthy for me is two-fold: focusing on finding the most efficient/high impact habits to work on + keeping a healthy mind to ensure that you have enough motivation to act healthy.

    For the first part, it’s things like doing high-intensity, interval training workouts/plyometrics/those crazy Insanity workouts (20 mins. vs. running for an hour), chopping all my groceries up on Sunday so cook time during the weekdays is halved, buying healthy snacks in bulk to reduce cravings at work. My focus here is to choose the activities that take the least time but produce the biggest results.

    The second part is to ensure that I’m not too mentally tired to do the above. For me this is: yoga on the weekends, meditation twice a day, Vitamin B supplements, plenty of 5 minute breaks at work, journaling at night. I think we often fail at trying to be healthy because while our intentions are good, our willpower (a finite resource) is sapped at day’s end. Keep the brain at a 100 and the body will follow.

  18. Nads says:

    I live in northern Alberta (Canada), so I’m all too familiar with long, cold, dark winters. I wear a fitbit to track my steps and I hunker down: get dressed for the temperature (snowpants or long underwear when needed), and take the corgi for a rip a couple times a day. Some days, I’m more motivated than others. When the sun is shining and the wind isn’t too bad, I’ll lace up the old sneakers and bang out 4 to 8 miles, otherwise the majority of my cardio is done in our building’s gym. I avoid the dreadmill and stick the stationary, and I make sure to throw in a couple full-body heavy lifting sessions per week.

  19. Susanna says:

    I dance like an idiot :)

    Seriously… I just dance to music I love like no one is watching. It’s truly awesome and doesn’t even feel like a workout. I just do it because it’s fun and keeps me happy!

  20. Shawn says:

    I have taken on the mantra “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”. To me, that means do something exercise related, even if it wasn’t what I had planned. Try to get to a Masters swim class 1-2 times per week, yes, outside but the pool is heated. Walk the dog. Do some challenges, like Squats or push ups. Current challenge is 30 days of planks. It is meant to be done 30 consecutive days, but I will be happy to complete 30 at some point. My favorite is Totally free full length workout videos for every fitness level and interest. I am never bored.

  21. I really try to walk as much as I can. BUt the really nice thing is to do snow activties. Skiing and snowshoeing are ways to keep your body moving while enjoy the winter!

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