Here we are in winter's icy grasp, with knee-deep snow drifts and wind whipping across the frozen tundra. Even the sun shines cold on our record-breaking January 2014 world. It’s enough to cause an epidemic of cabin fever.
Other than sledding and building snow-people, what kinds of activities can we do with more than a foot of the fluffy white stuff covering the very ground we used on warmer days as our exercise playgrounds?
I, for one, love winter!
For many, the winter cold and snow are proverbial four-letter words. But winter gives us options to spice up our exercise routine in ways that the rest of the year simply cannot. That white powder that so many have grown to hate offers some truly wonderful opportunities to try some activities that you may not have considered.
Here are some of my favorite ideas to break the winter workout blues and get some exercise (maybe without even knowing you are exercising).
- Build that snow-person. You’ll burn somewhere between 300 ─ 350 calories per hour!
- Build a snow fort and burn 350 calories per hour.
- Depending on the weight of the snow, you can burn 300 ─ 500 calories per hour by shoveling. (Please see cautionary note below.)
- Let your inner child out to play! Go sledding and burn 500 ─ 550 calories per hour. Walking the sled back up the hill is real work.
- Go ice skating at Headwaters Park in Fort Wayne. You can burn 346 calories per hour.
- Cross-country skiing burns a whopping 500 ─ 1,000 calories per hour, depending on the effort exerted. If you’d like to try it without spending money on equipment, I highly recommend a trip to Fox Island County Park on Fort Wayne's southwest side. You can rent all the necessary equipment for just $6 per hour ($5 for kids under 12) and hit the wonderful trails. Trust me, if you can walk, you can cross-country ski.
- As a somewhat crazy runner, I still like to hit the roads even in the cold and snow. Actually, my favorite time to run is when there is fresh snow on the ground and it is snowing those big wonderful snowflakes! I place some special spikes on my shoes and head out to experience the wonders of nature on a crisp winter day. I don't recommend this insanity for everyone, but I have done this for many years and know just what my body can and can't take.
Word of caution: we must be diligent about protecting ourselves from the cold. When the temperatures drop to dangerous levels, we should follow the advice of our friendly local meteorologist and stay inside. On those days that allow us to safely venture out into the elements, however, we simply need to dress for the occasion, wearing plenty of layers of warm clothing. Listen to your body tell you when you’ve had enough winter fun and head back inside to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate. Also, for those of us in the "mid-seasons" of life, always check with your family physician before embarking on a strenuous exercise program or activity.
Believe it or not, spring is just around the corner. Let’s all go and have some fun while this season lasts!
Let me know your favorite form of winter outdoor fitness fun.