One of the advantages of living in North and South Carolina is that we have many beautiful days all year round to get out and exercise. But rain, early evenings and colder days can make it harder than usual to get outside and stay active. Try these tips to make exercising in the winter easier!
1. Understand the importance of exercising in the winter
We know that exercise has many benefits, including preventing bone loss, relieving osteoporosis pain, preventing chronic diseases like diabetes, boosting immunity and improving mood. But did you know that staying active in the winter can be more efficient? Exercising in the cold is easier on your heart, and you’ll expend less energy and sweat less. You can also use exercise as an opportunity to get exposure to sunlight, which can combat seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression many people experience during the winter.
2. Warm up and cool down
When you’re getting started, it’s easy to forget about warming up and cooling down, but both are important. A warmup before your workout dilates blood vessels, making sure your muscles have plenty of oxygen, and cooling down afterward can lengthen muscles to avoid tightness.
It can be tempting to jump straight into your workout in the winter, but it’s important for your long-term health to warm up and cool down.
While you’re warming up, try:
- Easing into your activity for at least five to 10 minutes
- Walking on a treadmill
- Doing some modified bent-knee push-ups
While cooling down:
- Walk for about five minutes to slow your heart rate down
- Do a few stretches, holding each for 10-30 seconds
3. Stay hydrated
Most of us think about drinking water during the summer, but we can still get dehydrated during colder months. The National Council on Aging recommends calculating one-third of your body weight and drinking that number of ounces in fluids. If you weigh 150 pounds, for example, try to drink 50 ounces of water each day. Bring a water bottle with you, and make sure you drink up before and after exercise.
4. Dress for changing temperatures and visibility
As you know, the weather in the Carolinas can change rapidly! To be ready for whatever comes your way, it’s good to wear layers if you’ll be exercising outside. Atrium Health’s Dr. Paul Henson recommends three layers:
- Base sweat-wicking layer
- Wool layer for warmth (if needed)
- Windbreaker or another weather-proof coat
In addition to these layers, make sure you’re prepared for the rainy weather in North and South Carolina by wearing shoes with a good grip. It’s also wise to be ready for an early winter night: A reflective vest or other clothing can improve your visibility to keep you safe from cars.
5. Try exercising inside
Even though we have many nice days in the Carolinas, it can sometimes be too cold, rainy or snowy to get outside. On those days, try exercising at the gym or at home. To make it easier, ApexHealth offers our members a variety of fitness benefits, including:
- Access to local fitness centers and YMCAs
- Online workout classes
- Wearable fitness trackers
- Exercise kits for activities like Pilates, swimming and strength
6. Find new ways to get active in North and South Carolina
There are so many beautiful spots to explore in North and South Carolina, no matter what the season! Get inspired by checking out some of these ideas:
- Easy hikes in Western North Carolina
- Outdoor activities in the Charlotte Metropolitan Area
- Events in Chesterfield County, Marlboro County and York County
We hope these tips encourage you to make the most of your exercise routine this winter. If you have any questions about how to get out and live life boldly, give our ApexAssistants a call! We can be reached at (844) 279-0508 (TTY: 711). Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Apr. 1 through Sept. 30 and seven days a week 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31.