WASHINGTON — It can be tough to motivate yourself to go outside to exercise during the winter months — it’s cold, it gets dark early, and there could be snow or ice on the ground. But Sally Squires, who writes the Lean Plate Club™ blog, has some tips to help keep your winter workout routine going safely.
Cold air is much drier air. That can lead to loss of moisture and heat from the lower respiratory tract. Your airways can also be stressed by both indoor and outdoor pollutants — not to mention the cold and flu viruses that are so prevalent this time of year.
The bottom line: There’s a lot more stress on the whole respiratory system when you exercise in the winter, particularly outdoors. It can cause inflammation in the respiratory tract because you inhale large amounts of cold air. That can produce a pestering cough. So if you have asthma, make sure you take special precautions and be sure to get monitored regularly by your doctor or health professional.
We move less during the winter than other seasons. A variety of studies done throughout the world and in various age groups, from kids to the elderly, show that we tend to be a lot more sedentary in the winter than in the summer. We watch more television, for example. But physical activity is important for maintaining good health, and for things like cognitive function, better sleep, less appetite, etc. There are things that can help keep us active in the winter:
- Have an exercise or workout partner
- Use the right equipment and clothes
- Stay hydrated
- Sign up for a new class or activity
You can also make a commitment or get one of the growing number of apps that will pay you — yes, you read that correctly — to work out. And many of them link to devices or apps that you may already use such as FitBit, My Fitness Pal, Apple Health and others. They include:
- Balance Rewards from Walgreens, where you can earn money off on future purchases for fitness.
- Charity Miles, which allows you to workout to benefit a charity.
- PACT, which can be used to make a commitment to do something healthy; your payment comes from those who failed to complete their own commitments.
- Achievement has paid $500,000 to people who meet their goals.
You can also can get paid to participate in studies. But a word to the wise – these rewards sites usually collect information on you.