Winter weather can be a significant barrier to many people getting to the gym. It’s cold, rainy, icy, snowing, dark, none of which make us particularly motivated to do much of anything let alone go to the gym. When given the option between putting on sweats and sitting in front of the fireplace with a hot beverage and braving the cold to venture to the gym. It’s not difficult to imagine what most people would choose. Being from the West Coast battling harsh winters was never something I needed to worry about. However, after going to medical school on the East Coast, I became very familiar with what a “real” winter was very quickly. On the days the ground was slippery due to black ice, my car was buried in at least a foot of snow, and the temperature was -8 not accounting for wind chill, the last thing on my mind was going to the gym. So I had to get creative, and so can you.

Create your own indoor boot camp

Use items you already own like chairs, steps, and exercise equipment to create your own multi-station workout. You can also purchase a boot camp DVD or stream a class from a number of different apps and websites so you can complete your workout at home.

A Family Affair

If you have an interactive game console like an Xbox or a Wii you can easily have a dance off, play a game of tennis or bowling, and also spend time with your family. This is a lot of fun and encourages everyone in the household to be active.

Burn Calories While Cleaning

If you’re into multitasking, you can accomplish two tasks at once by doing labor intensive house cleaning tasks like vacuuming or mopping vigorously. There is some evidence that if you turn on music with faster beats per minute you are likely to move your body faster and get a better workout.

Have a Dance Party

Pop in a hip-hop, Latin or Bollywood dance instructional DVD and lose weight while having fun.  Or just put on your favorite music station or stored music and dance like nobody is watching.

Find Your Zen

Take time to do some mindfulness with either guided meditation or yoga. This is an opportunity to decompress, destress, and clear your mind which is much needed after a long week.

Cycle to Your Heart’s Content

If you have the ability to invest in an in-home stationary bike you can cycle to your favorite movie, television show or music. You can take this time to catch up on your favorite series you haven’t had the time to binge watch. Some stationary bikes come equipped with monitors that allow you to subscribe to live streamed classes, so you are actually exercising with a live group of people but are in the comfort of your own home.

Take it Back to the Days of Elementary School

Do you remember being a kid and jumping rope either on your own or with a group? If double dutch and other jump rope games like helicopter make you feel a tad bit giddy inside, tap into that love you had when you were younger. Get out the rope and practice. It’s definitely harder as an adult, but it’s still a lot of fun and is a killer workout.

When In Doubt, Plank it Out

If you’re not sure where to begin work on your core strength. Try holding a plank position for 15 seconds at first, and then repeat. You can also practice your side planks for a little extra exercise. You’ll feel the burn in no time.

Play a Game of Cards

So, if you are familiar with a deck of cards you know there are 4 suits: spades, hearts, clubs, and diamonds each with a number or face on the card. Face cards are designated as a 10, and ace cards can either be a 1 or an 11 depending on how motivated you’re feeling.

Get creative and assign one exercise to each suit. Shuffle the cards together, and then lay them face down. Flip over one card and then do that exercise for the number of repetitions listed on the card. For example if you assign the hearts suit as squats and you pull a 9 of hearts that would equal 9 squats.

This is a fun exercise to split with family or friends. Since 52 cards is a lot of exercises and repetitions for just one person, it’s fun to split the deck with others so you can work together toward a common goal. You also don’t have to complete the deck if it’s just you doing the workout. Take it easy at first, and build up your stamina and strength as the days go on.

*Originally published on the Inpathy Bulletin

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