As I walked to work at 6am today in a wind chill nearing zero, I started thinking of how futile it would be if one of my New Year’s resolutions was to diet. After a 20 minute walk into a freezing Lake Michigan headwind, I treated myself to a small mocha coffee and enjoyed every sip. If your resolution is more exercise and the cold is preventing you from getting out, I’m sure it’s not preventing you from taking a shower, brushing your teeth and talking on the phone. The following exercises won’t replace cardio, but they will address three areas of weakness that I frequently see with my clients.
- If you wash and rinse your hair twice when you shower, do the second wash with your non-dominant arm and hand. If you’ve got weak rotator cuff or shoulder muscles on your non-dominant side, you’ll be surprised at how fatigued they can get with a vigorous wash and scalp massage.
- Stand whenever you talk on the phone. Even better, pace and talk. And even better yet, put your back against a wall, slide down the wall into a squat position and maintain an “air bench” while you talk on the phone.
- Improve your balance by standing on one foot while you brush your teeth. You can alternate feet if you like. Though if you can’t stand on one foot for at least 15 seconds, it might be time to see a trainer about working on the core and glute strength necessary for good balance.
Takeaway: Since I also work as a wilderness guide, I love being outdoors in all temps and actually have friends who guide trips to both the North and South Poles. However, we can all be at risk for frost bite and hypothermia when exercising in cold weather. Here’s a link to a handy chart from the National Weather Service that can help you decide if it’s safe to venture out. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/windchill/index.shtml
One of my favorite tricks when I’m running or cross country skiing is to wear a light jacket so that I don’t get overheated and to keep a warmer “puffy” jacket in a small backpack. When I start to cool down at the end of my session, I put the heavier jacket right over my lighter wear.