Mother Nature is not always supportive of our exercise efforts — and in wintertime, often sends bitter cold that may make us want to stay indoors and curl up with a mug of hot cocoa versus head outside for a brisk walk or jog.
But even if the weather outside is frightful, you do not have to let it stop you from getting the exercise your body needs. Just move your exercise routine indoors. Fortunately, doing this does not have to be hard. In fact, there are countless easy ways to exercise indoors, and you do not need a lot of space or special exercise equipment to do it. Here are just a few ideas to consider:
- Use the stairs: If you have a flight of stairs, do not just use them to get where you need to go. Instead, think of them as your indoor exercise machine and go up and down them several times a day, making sure to safely hold the handrail at all times. This not only builds the muscles in your calves and thighs and keeps your heart rate going, it is also good for your joint health.
- Dance, dance, dance: Dancing to your favorite music can be an especially good indoor exercise during the winter months. One reason is because it does “double duty”: dancing not only helps you stay strong and maintain good physical health, it is also a lot of fun and can support your mental health too.
- Move while you watch TV. Why not create a new, but achievable challenge for yourself? Decide that when you watch TV, you will move during at least half of your program. Even if it is as simple as marching in place, dancing or lifting small hand weights, training yourself to move instead of sit could result in a major improvement in your health.
- Do leg lifts. Leg lifts strengthen muscles, keep joints active and help improve balance. To perform a leg lift, hold something sturdy, like a chair, point your toe behind you, then move your leg up and down in small pulses. Switch legs and do the same number of repetitions on the other side. Then, do small pulses to the side to work the outside of your thigh.
- Squat! Squats — that is, standing with your legs shoulder width apart, and bending your knees, so your legs and buttocks support your weight — are excellent exercises. Like leg lifts, they build muscles and can help improve balance. If performing a squat seems too challenging, start by simply doing repetitions where you sit in a chair, then stand up, then sit again.
- Use household items as hand weights: Do not forget to build your upper body strength. An easy and convenient way to start is simply to go to your pantry and find two cans of the same size and weight. Hold them, then start lifting, up and down. If you find this too easy or the weights too light, consider purchasing an inexpensive set of hand weights.
Why not get creative and come up with even more simple ways to exercise indoors. How about toe lifts while you talk on the phone? Marching in place while you prepare dinner? Playing an active game with your dog that keeps you both moving? Have fun considering your options — then give them a try!