DALLAS (BP)–Fall is here, but winter is just around the corner. Do you find it difficult to maintain your walking routine in the winter months? I know I do. While it’s easy to put on my walking shoes and head outdoors on a warm, sunny day, I find it decidedly less appealing when it’s cold outside. But winter — particularly in the face of holiday eating — is not the time to give up on our exercise programs.
If you really like to walk outdoors, and you’re like me and don’t mind a little chill in the air, you can probably continue your regular outdoor routine for most of the winter — with some slight modifications.
Be sure to dress properly. Since you’ll be getting warmer as you walk, you should dress in layers that you can remove if you get too warm. Choose breathable fabrics that draw moisture away from the body and dry quickly. Cotton isn’t a good choice because it holds moisture.
Invest in larger walking shoes for winter to accommodate thicker socks. A new pair with good traction is good if you encounter any icy patches. You might also want to add gloves and a headband or cap.
Even on cold days, you need to wear sunscreen and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes. It’s also important to drink plenty of water. While your normal sense of thirst might let you down when you’re cool, you can still become dehydrated.
When it’s just too cold to walk outdoors, there are plenty of indoor alternatives.
— Mall walking. Although I wouldn’t want to walk the mall on a nice day, mall walking does have some advantages. It never rains, it is safe and you can window shop while getting your workout.
— Indoor tracks or treadmills. Your local gym will have treadmills and probably an indoor track. An added advantage of joining the gym might be that you try out some of the strength training machines and add a whole new dimension to your workout.
— Videos. For variety, try a walking or fitness video. You might want to borrow a few from your friends and see which ones you like before you buy, or check one out from your local library or video rental store.
— Stay the course. The cold, short days of winter can certainly make it tempting to forgo your evening walk for a warm fire and a cup of hot cocoa. But with a little planning and modifications to your routine, you can stay in shape and control your weight throughout the season.
Tamara Quintana is the director of the employee wellness program for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.