Winter Fitness Tips

a woman stretching in the park in winter

Winter weight gain strikes many of us. And we wonder why we don't see it coming. In order to deal with it, here are some tips to keep yourself in balance and even to help work off those extra marks on the scale.

Planning and Will Power

You can avoid winter weight gain - those pounds that creep up like the "freshman 15". Here's how:

Don't deny yourself favorite dishes, but do eat selectively. Start each day with a healthy whole-grain breakfast to keep you feeling satisfied all morning. Choose a light lunch of soup or salad if you’ll be enjoying a holiday dinner later. All day long, drink plenty of pure water, six to eight glasses, and never arrive at dinner with an empty stomach. Before you leave home, snack on low-fat yogurt or a piece of fruit.

At buffets and parties, choose from fruit or veggie platters, or boiled shrimp with lemon or cocktail sauce, before you sample treats higher in fat and calories. Aim to fill your plate with two-thirds vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains, and one-third lean protein.

Researchers have found that the factors most likely to result in winter weight gain are hunger and activity level—too much of the first, too little of the second. People who stayed active in spite of shorter days and disagreeable weather and those who didn’t let themselves get too hungry were less likely to add pounds. The take-away message: Eat carefully, and keep moving.

Exercise for Less Stress and More Energy

Stay active to maintain your weight. You’ll also handle winter stress with less effort, and you’ll notice more energy for cleaning, organizing, and shoveling snow. You’ll even sleep better. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. If you’re heading to the mall for shopping, start with a brisk walk around the building. Fresh air and exercise will invigorate you. Inside, take stairs instead of escalators whenever you can. Carry water and rehydrate yourself frequently.

Plan winter get-togethers around activities. How about an ice-skating party, a hike, bowling, or a brisk walk to see snow or ice sculptures?

Try exercising first thing in the morning, before your day gets too busy. Twenty minutes with an aerobics or Pilates video will produce feel-good brain chemicals to start your day right. Buy yourself a pedometer and see how many steps you take in a day. Try to “beat the pedometer” by adding a few steps each day. You’ll be welcoming in the New Year with a healthier, fitter new you.


Elaine Ambrose

Taste For Life features articles and recipes by some of the best writers in all-natural wellness and nutrition. For more information, contact us.