Winter Outside Activity Ideas

Here’s some ideas for those of you who live in snow country.  Are you starting to feel a bit of cabin fever?  Many of us without snow still feel cabin fever about this time, so what can we do to beat the pent up feeling?  Get outside and enjoy winter of course! (For those not living in snow you can do your favorite year-round outdoor activities but getting outside can still help the winter blahs)

Walking:

Even if you take a few turns around your yard, driveway, block, or neighborhood, you’ll feel better after being outside even if briefly.

Nordic Walking:

This is a small twist on our basic walking routine. You just add poles. This helps increase your caloric expenditure and I find it more engaging than just walking.

Cross Country Skiing:

Hook yourself up to some boards, grab some poles, and go! Cross Country skiing is one of the best aerobic exercises out there, and we have great trails just minutes from you. Many golf courses sport cross country skiing in the winter. Since both your arms and legs are moving you’ll create a huge calorie burn! There is a reason this is called the great-grandparent of all skiing.

Snow Shoeing:

If you can walk you can snowshoe! Strap on the much lighter and easier to use designs of today and get hiking. Again, you can find great trails within minutes, and you can use your shoes in a variety of snows. It is peaceful, relaxing, and a great way to get your heart pumping during winter.

Down Hill Skiing and Snowboarding:

Alpine or Downhill skiing and snowboarding are direct descendants of cross country skiing. Great lessons in physics and energy, downhill and snowboarding are other great ways to enjoy a winter workout and our beautiful area while being active.

Sledding:

Sliding downhill is a great winter sport. Its a cool way to pay off the uphill hike ! Plus it gets you to repeat over and over. Use caution and common sense as many injuries are a result of sledding. This is a cheap and easy way to enjoy quality family time and the outdoors.

Ice Skating:

Gliding across the frozen pond, twirling, and gaining speed, how graceful, or imagine a fast game of hockey chasing a puck across the frozen water with intensity and great friends. Broomball comes in next – Heart pounding, easy to learn, and we have a rink in every neighborhood!

Curling:

When I explained this sport to folks in the south they were a bit perplexed. They never really got it. It could have been my explanation, but they kept getting stuck on rocks and sweeping – they never made the connection.

Ice Fishing:

Ok, this is only a workout depending on your preference for movement. Where did you park, how did you get to your spot, what will you be doing while you are fishing? The answers to your questions will determine what type of exercise this is, but if you park and hike in, and limit your fishing activities to fishing, it can be a great workout hauling things out and back and a wonderful way to enjoy a winter day.

Ice Climbing:

Looking for a great adventure – try ice climbing. This is the winter version of rock climbing, and once again there is great ice around here! Grab a buddy and take a class you’ll be hooked and ready to yell “climb on”.

Lose cabin fever by heading outside. I bet you can come up with more outside activities, so get moving and enjoy our winter days before they are gone for another year. Happy adventures!

Accountability and Weight Loss

Accountability. A big, very important word, accountability. In our society of give me’s, I deserve’s, and I want’s we have lost some accountability for our actions.

I meet many people who wonder why they cannot lose weight. “I try so hard”, they complain. Then we look at their actions.

They eat large portions, have long Friday night happy hours with friends, lots of pop and fast food choices, and no planning for meals or workouts. They spend their money on other items, rather than a gym membership or home workout gear. Sometimes I wonder where the rational is. For example: If I drink a 20 oz bottle of pop each day. At approximently $1.50/pop, I could afford a gym membership, more than 6 workout videos, a small set of dumbbells, 2 yoga kits, personal training, a pair of shoes, or some workout clothing. This is where many say, that’s why I buy the liter of pop for $1. Hmmm…is it any wonder more than 60% of our population is overweight? Until we begin to take responsibility for our actions weight will continue to climb.

Its too hard, you grumble. The media sends to many messages at me to drink pop, eat out, and buy things. Work takes all my time and I can not find time to work out. Well, you are responsible for you. It is no one’s fault if you fail to plan meals and end up eating un-healthy meals. Notice I did not say eating out. We have many choices when we eat out, but are you making smart choices? It is no one’s fault if you choose to work long hours and never take a break. A work out does not have to be long. Study after study show employee productivity goes up when employees are healthy, absenteeism goes down, and morale gets better. If your boss is not interested in any of those things, you may want to re-think your place of employment, it may not survive. It is no one’s fault if you choose to spend money on clothes, cigarettes, poor food choices, and other sedentary activities. Invest your money into things that will help you reach your goals.

Working out does not have to cost a dime. Have you ever been in a convienence store in the morning before work? Notice what others are buying. Many times you will see armloads of pop and other sugary drinks, chips, gallons of coffee (think caffeine); interesting isn’t it. I recently learned 60% of our county qualifies for some form of government assistance, yet when I look around a convince store, many can spend quite a bit on poor food choices, and then complain they have no money to spend on health.

Working out does not have to take much time. Ever sat through an episode of a TV show only to think it was dumb? Why did you waste your time? How about when you sit through one and because it ended you watch the one right after it? Half of many TV programs are commercials, so even if you like the show, you could do some activities during commercials, or better yet, you could do activity through the whole show! There is a half hour of activity and you did not spend any money or have to find any extra time.

Working out does not have to be a huge change. If you start it will snowball. What about working activity into your life? Quit driving around the parking lot looking for the closest spot – there is your extra half hour of time. Park as far away as you can and walk in. Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible. Walk instead of drive, sometimes it’ll take you less time to walk, than to get in your car, start it up, move it, sit at the stop lights, move through traffic, and find another spot to park. Get wild buy a bike. If you need a parking pass for your car – there is your extra money. (Worried about winter biking, there are many who bike all year long, and I am sure they could help you get started.)

It is no one’s responsibility to get you moving. It is no one’s responsibility to make sure you are choosing actions that correspond with your goals, and it is no one’s responsibility to make sure you follow through with your goals – its all you. Make the choice today to be accountable for your actions and in control of your choices and ultimately your health.

Use Intervals to Stay on Track This Season

For many clients I create quick workouts.  I deal with busy people, people who have children, people who work long hours, people who have life outside fitness. These people are able to fit it all in because they understand the value of exercise and the payoff they get is more energy, less stress, better sleep, and they are more productive even with minimal amounts of exercise. Now, I do not mean to lecture so let’s talk about quick workouts.

Many people use interval training to get better at an activity. I use it with clients to build their endurance. Basically, you begin at a lower level, push yourself harder for a short time, and then recover at the lower level, repeat as often as necessary. For example: Begin walking after 2 minutes, then walk faster raising your rate of perceived exertion to 8 or even 9 for 45 seconds to a minute, then return to a pace that will bring your heart rate down and your rate of perceived exertion to a 5 or 6 for 2 minutes. Repeat throughout the workout and you’ve got interval training down.   The last thing you need to consider about cardio work is, how hard should I be working?   The rate of perceived exertion scale is an easy way to measure intensity.  I like a simple one to ten scale.  One is easy, ten is too hard to continue.  Work around a 7.  If you have been sedentary work up to 7 for 10-15 minutes per session. Initially, you may only be able to maintain 7 for a very short time, slowly increase your time at that intensity until you are reaching your goals. This building and recovering from 7 is interval training.

Remember anyone can do intervals as long as you listen to your body, work within your current exercise level, and you should always talk with your health care provider before beginning any exercise, just to be safe. Intervals can be a great way to move yourself beyond a plateau, build endurance, and get the most out of a short workout. When you complete an interval workout you will feel great, excited, and successful. Its not easy but few things worth anything are!

Staying on Track

And so it begins.  Here we are at the crossroads of holiday seasons, the first of December.   You have probably already begun the craziness of the holidays,  and are attempting to tell yourself it will not get hectic this year.  Well, it will.  A good plan will work better than delusional self-talk.

First, remember this time of year is different. Your routine will not be the same. Your focus will not be the same, and you will have to accommodate increased commitments. In the place you record your daily schedule, remember to record time to move. Write down when, where, and what you’ll be doing this holiday season to meet your exercise quota. What are your exercise goals? Are they still realistic given increased demands on your time? Do you need to revamp them for the next four weeks? Are you ready for the New Year? You should be able to answer these questions clearly. If you cannot, review past articles on planning and New Year’s Resolutions to help you identify your goals and direction. Is it time to schedule time with a personal trainer? I know many think this is a luxury, but a session right now to help you realistically plan for busy times is not luxury when you consider the alternative – falling off track and beginning from scratch… again.

Second, keep in mind that a full length workout may not be in your best interest. Especially if the time commitment of a regular workout deters you from beginning at all. You are better off with shorter workouts than none at all. A professional can help here by creating a condensed workout so you don’t neglect any part of your goal. Many workouts can be shortened to reflect busier times without losing their overall umph for a short period of time.

Third, holiday times are stressful for many people. Many deal with too much to do, money issues, concerts, parties, social events, fundrasiers, and more. Others deal with depression surrounding the hype of the holiday season. No matter which end of the continuum you are on, exercise can help. Exercise is proven to help reduce stress, help you sleep better, it gives an emotional boost, and can help you gain perspective this holiday season. It is important to take time for you during the busy giving season. We know when we are well cared for we can give more to others. The only person who will make sure you are well cared for is you, so do not neglect yourself this winter.

You Will Reach Your Fitness Goals

We have come to that time of year again.  The frazzled, stressful, exciting, busy, and wonderful time of the holidays.  Thanksgiving is up first. Many view Thanksgiving as a time of overindulgence and gluttony, which for many of us it is.  Some view it as a leap off track as they try to complete health ideals they know will be seriously compromised throughout the next month.  Some view it as the beginning of the end. What can we do to make sure the holidays do not derail our plans to a healthier life? One word…Plan.We have spent some time talking about planning. Lets review, first you must be honest about your goals.  What are they?  Are they realistic?  Do they match your desire, or are they someone else’s ideas?  Next, are you committed to making these goals a reality?  I mean really committed because here comes the test – the holidays.  What will you do to ensure your commitment?  Then, ask yourself, what are the obstacles that could pop up?  What will you do in response to those obstacles?  How will you stay focused on your goal? Again, are you committed to these goals? Finally, relax, you will reach your goals if you are persistent and committed.

What exactly does that mean, you ask. Well, it means that the journey is more important than the end location.  What you choose everyday is greater than the sum of choices on one day.