Exercising outdoors in the winter, in most parts of the county, isn’t easy. There’s no light coming into the windows when your alarm goes off, and it’s pitch black before five, so most evening activities would be dimly lit, too. Winter storms and snow make heading across town to the gym a treacherous trip. Then, of course, there’s the cold weather: While some people have no problem bundling up and braving frigid temps for their morning run, others are more prone to hibernation until things warm up in the spring.
But retreating to the couch for the winter is not your only option. Instead, consider one of these popular indoor workout trends that will help ensure you keep your mind and body healthy, and work towards those fitness goals, all winter long.
Get swinging with kettle bells
If you want to stay indoors in the comfort of your own home, swinging kettlebells offers a very effective cardio and strength workout. Kettlebell workouts have emerged as a favorite among people of all fitness levels. While the workouts look deceptively simple, a recent study found that during a 20-minute kettlebell workout participants were burning off, on average, 20 calories a minute. That’s the equivalent of running a six-minute mile, meaning you can get a full-body workout and torch major calories in less time than it takes to watch one of your favorite sitcoms.
Why are kettlebells so effective? It’s thanks to their unique shape. They have an odd center of gravity that calls for you to do more work with your stabilizing muscles to complete the moves. At the same time though, they are gentler on the wrists than traditional weights. You can find kettlebells in weights ranging from 8 lbs all the way up to 108 lbs. Opt for the real cast iron models and start off with the weight you feel most comfortable with and then build up as you go. I recommend starting with a 10-lb kettlebell for popular exercises like squats and kettle bell swings, and a 5-lb kettlebell for exercises like a single overhead press.
Strength train with resistance bands
Another fitness trend that is effective, easy to master, suitable for lots of different fitness levels and only calls for a very inexpensive piece of equipment is resistance training with bands. In fact, research has found that programs utilizing resistance bands increase muscle strength and size, and decrease body fat in a very similar way to free-weight training programs.
Resistance training helps you to improve both your strength and endurance simply using your own body weight and inexpensive resistance bands. You can buy a set for under $10 and there’s a huge range of exercises you can utilize them with. In fact, we have a simple total-body workout with resistance bands here.
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Channel your inner child and jump
How much fun did you have on a trampoline as a kid? You can still have fun jumping as a grown up, and if you invest in an in-home trampoline, you can get an invigorating workout while you’re at it.
A six-minute session on a trampoline is just about equivalent to running a mile and yet it’s actually easier on your joints, thanks to the lower impact cushioning trampolines have built in. And if you do want to venture out, a trip to one of the growing number of trampoline parks that are springing up all over the county is a fun winter activity for a family with kids or a group of friends. You can also check with your local gym to see if they offer rebounding classes, which are cardio and strength workouts performed on mini personal trampolines.
Climb a wall
Another fun way to get a great full-body workout is to track down an indoor rock-climbing wall. Indoor climbing gyms are becoming more popular, so finding one shouldn’t be too hard. You’ll find a list of all accredited facilities in the US and beyond here.
Scaling a wall will activate the muscles in your arms, legs, back and shoulders and can burn up to 650 calories a session, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. You’ll build mental strength too, as you strategically make your way to the top.
Unpack your swimsuit and hit the pool
It’s never too early to dig out your swimsuit and hit the local public swimming pool. In the winter swimming offers a great, low-impact workout that anyone can enjoy. Because it’s so easy on the joints, you can exercise for longer without tiring yourself — or your muscles — out, allowing you to burn 400-700 calories an hour depending on your weight. And the nice warm water will be a welcome change to all that nasty cold weather outside. Go solo and swim some laps, or consider a group fitness class like water aerobics or aqua spin for a fun twist on traditional cycling.
Get your skate on
Ice skating may be a pastime linked with the holidays, but it offers an excellent winter workout into the new year, too. You can bundle up and find an outdoor rink, or there are plenty of indoor ice skating rinks you can head to instead, which will provide stable conditions regardless of the weather outside.
Wherever you lace up, your skating sessions will help tone your butt, legs and core as well as the stabilizing muscles that will have to come into play to keep you upright and balanced.
Find your inner zen
Yoga offers a great workout for both mind and body — which is especially important this time of year when the winter blues can have us feeling stressed and sad. Feeling more relaxed, grounded and clear-headed are some of the mental benefits that my clients report feeling after a yoga session. The physical benefits of yoga include improved posture, strength, and of course burning calories. And most forms of yoga can be completed anywhere you can fit a small mat. While many of us think of yoga as being all about Zen and calm, that is just one style. More vigorous styles, such as sweaty, intense Bikram yoga, offer a very challenging workout that can replace your morning run while the weather outside is cold. Check out free videos on Amazon and roll out your mat right in your living room or find a nearby studio that offers classes.
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