Every New Year, thousands of people (if not more) make the resolution to get fit. They sign up for gym memberships, buy workout DVD’s, and order the latest and greatest gadget from a slick infomercial on TV. And usually about this time of year, several weeks in, a large majority of these same people let the membership go unused, allow the DVD’s to gather dust on a shelf, and depending on the size of the gadget, use it as a clothes horse or shove it under the bed.
Why do we do that to ourselves? True fitness isn’t just about losing a pre-determined amount of weight or trying to match the body of someone famous. Fitness is about having the energy to enjoy your life. And if you’re the type of person that likes going to the gym, or attending a class of some sort, or doing the latest workout in your home, that’s awesome and I applaud you. But, if you don’t like doing those activities, it is possible to get fit and you don’t have to wait for the first flowers of spring to do it, nor should you. Even in winter, you can take those steps to get fit.
When many people think of ice skating, their minds conjure up images of spandex and sequins in the Olympic Games. But the vast majority of people who enjoy ice skating come from all ages and all sizes. It’s a wonderful way to get a cardio workout. Depending on your size, you could burn anywhere from 200 calories up to 800 calories, just having fun with your family and friends. Ice skating boosts your metabolism so that you’ll even start burning calories when you’re not doing much of anything. You’ll be building lean muscle and increasing your endurance. Think you’re not coordinated enough to try? Ice skating is surprisingly easy to learn and you don’t have to be a pro to have fun. In fact, some of the most fun is had by not being afraid to fall down!
This is a super way to get fresh air and have an enormous amount of fun! Obviously, you’ll want to make sure that you have a safe sled that’s large enough for your size and you’ll want to be clear from obstacles, but I have had some amazing times sledding with my kids. Dragging that sled back to the top of the hill over and over is where you get the workout, but the payoff is that feeling of exuberance you get as you go sailing down the hill. Even on the coldest of days, we’ve built up a good sweat from sledding and created many memories.
Hiking isn’t just for warmer weather. Several parks and recreation areas have hiking trails that have been cleared in the winter for those who want to get out and enjoy the winter weather. As much as I love the sights and sounds of nature during spring, summer and fall, there is nothing that rivals the peace and serenity of hiking during the winter. Nature seems quiet and still and the beauty of icicles hanging from cliff walls, the soft blankets of snow clinging to the earth’s surface and the delicate flakes decorating the branches from treetops above make the environment seem clean and pure. This activity is good for the body, the mind and the spirit.
Kids are naturally drawn to snow. Don’t just stand and watch from the window – get out there and enjoy it with them! The work required to build a snowman takes team work and is a great workout as well. We used to enjoy building our “snow family”, complete with our dog! No matter how long it took, nobody ever complained because we couldn’t wait to see the finished product. I have seen yards with igloos and even snow dragons. We have built snow forts and snow tunnels. It’s a great way to bond with family.
Even though we’re fans of playing in the snow, we do need to clear the sidewalks and driveway. Some families choose to use a snow blower because it’s quicker and more efficient, but I’m a fan of good old fashion shoveling. Not only is it good exercise, it’s so much better for the environment. You do have to be careful that you don’t lift more than you can handle and you want to use proper form so you don’t hurt your back, but this is something almost every family member can (and should) help with. Stores even sell the smaller shovels (which my son loved as a little guy). A tip: I rub a small amount of a great, eco-friendly bath oil that I use on the ends of our shovels. That helps keep the snow from sticking to the shovels, making the task much easier.
What if you don’t live in an area that has a lot of snow? You can still get outside. Go for a walk or ride your bike. Take the kids or the dog. You may have to bundle up a little bit depending on the temperature, but at least 20 minutes a day outside will help you get some exercise, fresh air and Vitamin D. This will help you to get fit, relieve stress and help you to have a more peaceful, positive attitude. It can also help to ward off the “Winter Blues”.
So no more failed resolutions and no excuses! Fitness is about moving. It’s about having fun. It’s about enjoying life. And when you incorporate activities like these into your life, there’s one annual resolution you can scratch off the list.