Cold weather is no excuse to get out of shape. And currently, with more and more people foregoing the gym to save money, the cold weather appears to be an easy excuse to let fitness slide. Get the skinny on indoor fitness from two experts who give their recommendations on winter exercise - out of the cold and without a gym.
Indoor fitness tips
"During the winter the daylight is shorter and typically energy is lower," says clinical exercise physiologist Kelli Calabrese. "Seasonal depression takes place in the winter, immune systems are weakened, and comfort foods that are laden with sugar and fat abound which put women especially into a sluggish state."
Calabrese suggests the best way to stay focused with indoor workouts is to commit to a few easy moves most mornings, at least five days per week.
Indoor fitness tip #1: Take the stairs
A flight of stairs is a fitness goldmine. Calabrese suggests the following routine:
Place an exercise mat and a pair of dumbbells near the bottom of the stairs. Take one trip up and down the flight of stairs in between the following exercises:
- 20 squats - 20 incline push ups - 20 lunges with your left foot on the bottom step facing away from the stairs - 20 lunges with your right foot on the bottom step facing away from the stairs - 20 back rows - 20 bicep curls - 20 seated dips - 20 abdominal crunches
You can perform a total body conditioning routine in less than 30 minutes - without leaving your house!
Indoor fitness #2: Interval Training
Like the stair workout, Calabrese suggests alternating plyometric exercises with strength training exercises.
Plyometric exercises include jump shots (simulate shooting a basketball), split squats (quickly swapping your legs from a lunge position), and jump rope.
Strength training exercises can include the exercises listed above in the stair climbing workout as well as side leg lifts, shoulder press, and single leg dead lifts.
Indoor fitness tip #3: Meditation
"Sometimes the solitude, silence and relaxation are exactly what your body needs. The stress reduction techniques will also help in the long run regarding weight loss," says Calabrese. Chronically high stress levels have been associated with an increase in belly fat. (Read Is stress making your belly fat? for more info.)
Indoor fitness tip #4: Enjoy your indoor workout
"Choose an activity that you enjoy and engage in it often," she adds. "Exercise with a spouse, girlfriend, group or trainer. The accountability makes the difference between showing up and pushing hard or pulling the covers over your head. Once you begin to see small successes, you will naturally want to pick up momentum." (Click for the benefits of a fitness support system.)
Indoor fitness tip #5: Change up your winter fitness routines
Fitness expert, lifestyle consultant, and fitness model Jennifer Nicole Lee, also recommends treating your indoor fitness routines as you would any exercise routine, year-round.
"Changing up your workout routine regularly, usually every four to six weeks, is the best way to prevent a weight loss plateau from ever occurring in the first place," says Lee. Her Bikini Blast Strength Program is a great way to change up your exercise routine, anytime of the year. Lee recommends a combination of cardio and strength training.
Indoor fitness tip #6: Jump rope
"It's been scientifically proven that just a few minutes of jumping rope burns more fat and calories than running for 30 minutes," says Lee.
She recommends jumping rope in between strength training sets for 30 to 60 seconds. "If you don't have the space or coordination to jump rope, try running up and down a set of stairs do standing jumping jacks to keep your heart rate up. This blend of strength training blended with cardio is excellent for women who need to lean out fast," says Lee. "Start with short 30 to 60 second intervals until you can increase your endurance."
Indoor fitness tip #7: Strength training
Lee says strength training is essential to build lean muscle, which naturally boosts your metabolism. She suggests a Monday/Wednesday/Friday split and taking off Saturday and Sunday.
Indoor fitness tip #8: Cardio exercise
As far as cardio routines, Lee says to try to accumulate at least 45 minutes of cardio a day, three to four days a week. If you have a treadmill, mimic a hilly area to walk outside by increasing the incline of your treadmill between four and 10 percent. Walking uphill tones the leg and butt muscles and burns more calories than walking on a flat surface. Mix up the incline and speed to keep your workout interesting.
Indoor fitness tip #9: Domestic fitness
Clean the house in record time. Lee explains heavy cleaning can elevate your heart rate to an aerobic level. Make as many trips up and down those stairs as you can, and try to rest as little as possible to stay in the aerobic zone.
Indoor fitness tip #10: Have fun
Lee urges her clients to remember that fitness is not a competition or contest. She says, "It's also not a one time event, rather, a journey to be enjoyed - important to remember when the cold weather forces you to stay inside."