by Maureen Sundberg
Winter issues of many magazines are awash with articles suggesting ways to keep active in the cold months when we tend to slow down. Although it might be more enjoyable in the short term to curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and a book from the stack designated “landscape inspiration,” we know that the more active we stay in January and February, the easier it will be to ease into spring landscape work.
Gym memberships and organized classes are reliable options, but if you’re looking for less structured exercise inspiration, give some of the following a try.
- Bundle up and head for the woods. With no snow on the ground across most of the country, you can still get out on trails, without worrying as much about encountering poison ivy. If you’re lucky enough to have snow on the ground, strap on the snowshoes. With snowshoes, you’ll get in your cardio as you test balance, agility, and endurance. Find out more about snowshoeing.
- Lace up the ice skates. Another great cardio activity, skating also improves joint flexibility and builds leg muscle. Learn about the other benefits of ice skating.
- Take time to dance. Lock up the family’s cell phones, turn on some tunes, and dance like nobody’s watching. It may not be pretty, but everyone can move to the music and get some aerobic exercise. Depending on your moves, you’ll improve muscle tone and coordination, too. Feeling confident? Take it up a notch and get on the dance floor where you’ll find additional health benefits from improved balance and mental functioning to a greater sense of wellbeing. Learn more about the health benefits of dancing.
- Want some exercise, but don’t want to change out of your pajamas? Find a flight of stairs. Climbing up and down stairs will get your heart pumping. If you want to do more, work a variety of muscle groups with exercises designed for stairs. Mayo Clinic offers a list.
- Mall walking may not be everyone’s activity of choice, but it’s not a bad option when sidewalks and trails are covered in ice. Next time you find yourself waiting at the mall while your electric vehicle charges or someone makes a “quick” purchase, take advantage of a mall’s large enclosed space – put down the phone and take a lap. Look for stairs that will add intensity to your activity. Mall walking won’t give you the same restorative benefits of a walk in the woods, but you’ll find that the time spent waiting for your child/spouse/parent at the mall will disappear in a snap. Click for more mall walking info.
- Active television watching. This one takes a lot of self-control, but if you regularly forego the snacks and engage in commercial-break exercise, you’ll definitely see benefits. There are any number of stretches and exercises you can perform during commercial breaks or even during programs (given understanding (or competitive) companions). There’s lots of advice as to the best exercises to accompany your television viewing, but squats, planks, lunges, and various stretches are all top choices. Find one routine here, and another here.
About the Author
Maureen Sundberg has edited the ELA Newsletter since 2011 and became ELA’s Executive Assistant in 2018. She works out of her home in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts.
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