How to: Stay active in cold weather

Finding the time and energy to exercise is difficult even when the sun is shining. Dark mornings and short days make it even harder to get out of bed. Winter months can mean a slump, but they don’t have to. There are many indoor and outdoor options available December through March.

Outdoor enthusiasts might like to try a cycling class at the Wellness Center. The instructors do their best to make it feel like an outdoor adventure. Taking the class also provides simulated hills that the Fargo-Moorhead landscape can’t offer. One song will be mountains and the next song will be sprints on a flat road.

“So you miss cycling outside. We play a DVD of a rode and you go to different destinations,” said Ashley Myhra, senior mass communications student and cycling instructor.

Myrha has noticed an increase in class attendance since winter began. She said she thinks the workout classes are so effective because of the motivation that comes from working out in a group.

“If you’re not used to coming, group classes are great. The workout is already laid out and the group members are there to motivate you,” Myrha said.

Although Myrha is a runner, she doesn’t run outside in the winter months.

“Once it gets icy, I don’t know how they do it. It actually blows my mind,” Myrha said. “I don’t mind the cold, but it’s the ice and the snow.”

Taking a turbo-kick class might satisfy the cardio-hungry. It is considered a level 10 workout, meaning it is meant to maximize the heart rate.

“We warm them up and go though some punches and kicks just to get moving, then we put it all together with some burpees and jump squats to reach the level 10 intensity,” said Kyle Czech, sophomore biology student and turbo kick instructor.

Zumba and cardio toning are two other good cardio options. The Wellness Center also has plenty of treadmills and stationary bikes.

For the hard core runners out there, a treadmill might not suffice. When running outside is a must, there are some precautions to keep in mind.

“Layering correctly is important. You can always take clothes off,” Jake Olson Beyond Running employee said.

Start with a base layer that keeps moisture away from your body, Then a middle layer made of similar material. An outer layer like a wind breaker, or heavy jacket will help keep the bite of the wind down.

The same goes for the lower body. When it is bitter cold outside, wearing tights or Under Armor under pants will help keep the chill away.

“If there’s one fabric to stay away from it’s cotton. Cotton will absorb moisture and make you colder,” Olson said.

Ice can be even more threatening than the cold. Traction spikes for the bottoms of shoes are a must for safety. They can be simply attached to any regular running shoe.

And finally, remember to take into account the most menacing of elements, the wind. Distance runners have tricks that are especially important during the winter months.

When running against the wind don’t stand straight up and down. Keep the head down and the body small without crouching. When running with the wind, stand up tall and stride with the wind. This will help conserve energy.

“Knowing how to work with the wind is important especially in the winter months,” Olson said.

For Olson, any day with a temperature lower than minus 10 is too cold. If there is a wind chill, it’s lower than that. Some Beyond Running customers are even tougher than Olson.

“We have people come in that go out in minus 40 wind chill,” Olson said.

If negative temperatures don’t sound appealing, joining an intramural is a good option. When the weather is too frightening, they don’t meet.

“Intramurals are another good idea because you meet a ton of people, get your exercise and have a lot of fun,” Myhra said.

Whatever the method, exercise is still important in the winter. It’s easier to make excuses this time of year. Getting out and being active will help keep away the winter blues.

“When it is crappy out a lot of people fall into depression. Exercise is a good way to get out of that,” Myhra said.


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