Cold Days Are Coming: What is Your Winter Exercise Plan?

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On the long, warm days of summer, I like to get my daily exercise by swimming laps in an outdoor pool or taking a long bicycle ride through my local park system. Both activities burn lots of calories without extra stress on my joints.

Across much of the country, the weather is turning colder and exercising outdoors isn’t as fun as it was a few weeks ago. But regular movement is still important in winter. On days when it’s just too cold to exercise outdoors, here are three indoor activities that will keep you healthy.

Yoga and Meditation

In many recent scientific studies, the ancient practice of yoga has been shown to be an important complementary therapy in reducing anxiety disorders and depression, as well as aiding pain management. And, it may be a non-pharmaceutical aid for those with diseases such as hypertension and spine mobility problems.

Studies show regular meditation can lead to an increase in awareness and a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol. In one study, participants who meditated daily for 20 minutes showed a reduction in pain, anxiety and anger. Other examples of the reported benefits of mediation include improved social relationships, reduced family stress and greater closeness and acceptance between partners.

Walking, Jogging and Running

Regular movement helps keep up levels of the hormone serotonin, which can help prevent hunger. While outdoor jogging and running become more difficult and unpleasant in colder months, you can find alternatives. Make a point of taking laps around your workplace, walk to your coworkers instead of calling or writing emails, and walk to lunch.

Weight Training

An exercise routine that includes strength training at least once per week can help maintain muscle strength, which is particularly important as we age. Sessions with personal trainers and group class can help ensure you train safely and are well worth the cost. Look for information at a gyms or community center that offers instruction for all ages and conditions.

More Indoor Options

Maybe you’re looking for a different way to keep active in winter. Look for something that appeals to you — swimming, basketball, spinning or aerobics. The most important thing is finding activities that you’ll stick with through the dark days of winter.

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Robin Rood
Robin Rood, RD, LD, MEd, MA, writes about nutrition as a local expert for in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and blogs at