An insider's guide to winter exercise

02/03/2014 2:36 PM

02/04/2014 8:22 PM

So you resolved to lose weight, to get stronger or maybe just to fit in those recommended 30 minutes of daily activity. The start of the year always brings a rush of motivation, but also freezing temperatures, slushy sidewalks, slippery roads and a strong urge to stay indoors. Is it possible to stay on track while enjoying the warmth and comfort of your own home? Trainer Tim Bruffy of Washington, D.C., has a few ideas.

1 Make commercial breaks count.

It’s tempting to sit down in front of the TV when you get home. But you can watch your favorite show while getting a workout. Put together a circuit workout of simple strength exercises: squats, push-ups, sit-ups, etc., and “make it a commitment every commercial break to knock out a circuit,” Bruffy says. Choose a number of repetitions that’s comfortable for you (five to 10) and see how many sets you can do in a commercial break. A 30-minute show will probably have less than 10 minutes of commercials, so keep the intensity up.

2 Cardio doesn’t have to mean running.

Your cardio routine at the gym might be limited to the treadmill or elliptical machine, but there are more ways to give your heart a workout. “I would think of cardio in terms of heart-rate zones,” Bruffy says. Regardless of the activity, if the intensity is high enough, you’re working your heart, too. Combine strength exercises (planks, push-ups, dips, crunches) and more traditional cardio exercises such as jumping jacks or running in place.

3 Get creative.

Most people don’t keep barbells at home. So if you want to add resistance training to your workout, you might have to think outside the box. A gallon of milk weighs about eight pounds. A can of soup? About a pound. What other strength-training tools do you have lying around the house?

4 Practice your I’s, T’s and Y’s.

After sitting all day at work, this exercise can help fix that hunched posture while strengthening your shoulders: Lie on your back, starting with your arms by your sides. Then use your arms to make the letters I, T and Y (sort of like the “YMCA” dance). The American Council on Exercise recommends holding each position for 15 to 30 seconds and performing two to four cycles. It’s another good one for a commercial break.

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