Winter exercises to keep the body moving

Written by on November 8, 2010 at 10:19 am

If you live in New England, this morning's mushy mess followed by this evening's early sunset will confirm what you've long been fearing: winter is here.

Fortunately, us northerners are made of hardy stock that will survive the long, cold, dark season, an experience that will make the spring shedding of scarves for shorts all the sweeter. Then our bones will creak and muscles stretch as we start to get back in shape for the MS Challenge Walk. Any doctor will tell you that health is something easier to retain than regain. So how can we keep in shape all year long and not just when it's warm out?

There are plenty of aerobic exercises you can enjoy year-round, regardless of the weather. The most obvious answer is to join a gym or the Y, where you can walk and run on treadmills, use step machines, or join dance and yoga classes. But being cooped up indoors is not always the answer for winter doldrums, especially at the rates some gyms charge.

Cross Country Skiing along Great Glen TrailsIf you prefer to be outdoors taking advantage of the unique opportunities offered by the cold, try cross-country skiing. The Cross Country Ski Areas Association lists eight trails in Massachusetts alone, with more throughout the region.

Or, if you're like our stalwart leader of the bike crew, you can ride your bicycle, even in the snow. Icebike.org has more details on taking this risk.

Personally, I enjoy contra dancing. It's a smoke-free, alcohol-free, family-friendly activity that accommodates all skill levels, especially beginners. Live music and fun people combine in a routine that's the equivalent of walking several miles. (Seriously — they've measured the distance traveled by dancing feet!)

How do you keep your body moving in the winter? Share your suggestions in the comments below!

Ken joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2005, more than a decade after his mother was diagnosed. After walking for three years and 150 miles, he switched to the support crew and now rides his bicycle along the trail, providing whatever encouragement (and snacks!) he can to the 600 walkers. He is also an alumnus of the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.

1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Donn Hockman says:

    Ken – read your blog re winter exercises with interest. As a veteran of 9 Challenge Walks, along with my daughter, Amanda Kierce, my winter exercise program is very simple. My commute to/from work takes me to Harvard Square in Cambridge and I walk the remaining 1 mile to my work site in central Square. Additionally, the building I work in has 4 floors and as often as I am able to, I will choose to take the stairs rather than the elevator. However, once my 'foot drop' takes over, climbing those same stairs becomes almost dangerous. I realize that this is not glamerous by any means, but it is effective for me.

    Donn