Staying physically active during the cold months in Michigan

Winter sports are not the only options for staying physically active in Michigan.

Physical activity provides many health benefits in addition to managing body weight. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults (18-64) in general need two and a half hours per week of moderate physical activity. Moderate physical activity is described as aerobic activity that increases heart rate and breathing to some extent, and measures a five or six on a zero to ten scale of a person’s capacity. Examples include brisk walking, dancing, and swimming. If you have a chronic health condition, you should always consult your physician before starting a new activity routine.

During the winter months in Michigan, it can be tempting to stay indoors and curl up with a book and hibernate! The days are shorter and as the temperature drops so do energy levels. December, January and February are ideal months to hit the slopes with your skis or snowboard, or go snowshoeing or cross country skiing. Of course, depending on the amount of snowfall in your area there may also be the daily chore of clearing driveway and sidewalks. Shoveling snow can be a great way to burn off some calories (averaging 150-200 calories). Want a little bit more activity? Offer to shovel a neighbor’s driveway or walk as well!

 If you are not someone who enjoys being out in the snow and cold, winter sports may not appeal to you. There are still ways to be physically active indoors. If you have the resources, check out local fitness centers. Many centers offer deep discounts on memberships or trials during the winter. Ask if you can sign up for a short term membership to try it out. If you have space at home, you may want to purchase a treadmill or elliptical machine. Look for sales on gym equipment or check online for gently used equipment.

If you are short on cash or space, check out your cable providers’ channel listings for fitness channel availability. Once you find a favorite show, record it so you can exercise at your convenience! And of course, there are always the tried-and-true methods, like dancing to your favorite music, climbing staircases, and taking the dog for a daily walk around the neighborhood.

Here are a few more ideas to exercising in the winter:

  • Be a mall walker: It’s warm, you can meet friends and there is plenty of window shopping. Just steer clear of the food court and kiosks selling those yummy smelling goodies!
  • Do sit ups, push- ups, squats, jumping jacks and stretches during the commercial breaks of your favorite show.

Most importantly, find something that you like doing and can stick with. Get up, get out, and get active!

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