Working Out All Year Round

 

Tis the season of cruddy weather—at least for a lot of the country. I’m lucky because I live in Arizona and California, so I can be outside most of the year.

 

If I’m in AZ in the summer, I should get out early, or after the sun sets to avoid those horrendous, blistering temps. But, other than that, I can still get outside.

 

However, I’m originally from Illinois—the northwest suburbs of Chicago to be exact. So, I understand the bitter temperature, biting wind and being so tired of snow you could scream. That’s right around now. My family and friends are being warned to be prepared as they could get a foot or more of snow this weekend.

 

Even though I tease them, this is not weather to fool around in. You want to stay indoors as much as possible, and avoid those icy roads.

 

But, your fitness doesn’t have to suffer. You may not be able to get to the gym, or take a walk outside with the dog. That’s okay! Maybe you don’t have a lot (or any) exercise equipment at your house. No problem!

Stay warm and toasty in your house, but still get a great workout using just your own bodyweight.

 

It’s okay to take some time off from your workouts. You get sick, or your family does, and you miss a week, but jump right back to it when you can. Or, you have been training for an event such as a marathon, triathlon, etc. and want to rest a few days when you’re finished. These are all viable reasons to take a break. But so many people have trouble getting back to the gym if they are forced to take time away due to weather or illness. Plus, keeping your cardiovascular system functioning properly is essential to health. Some of the many benefits include:

 

  • Reduced body weight.
  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Lower “bad” cholesterol.
  • Higher “good” cholesterol.
  • Improved insulin sensitivity.
  • Improved overall conditioning/exercise tolerance.
So, if it’s weather or sick kids keeping you at home, don’t skip the workout! Even a little goes a long way.

 

Tabata Style

 

Tabata is an intense form of exercise that is done in four-minute segments: 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest for eight rounds. You can do just one four-minute block, or link them up with a minute or so of rest between for a longer workout—your choice! You can choose one exercise to repeat for eight rounds, or alternate two, or even pick eight and do it circuit style. The possibilities are endless! Here are just a few of the exercises you can do (with a low impact/modified option for those that need it):

 

Burpees

 

These are hellish. I saw it suggested once that instead of calories next to foods, there should be how many burpees you would have to do to burn that ice cream or donut off your body. That would make me stop and think! To modify, you can slow it down by stepping one foot out at a time into a plank position instead of hopping, and when you stand up just reach up, don’t jump up. If you can’t get down to the floor because of mobility issues, use the couch. Instead of placing your hands on the floor, place them on the edge of the couch (so it doesn’t move) and jump or step feet out. The angle is easier on your body.

 

Jump Squats

 

You can do these like the video in the link, or you can jump your feet out, squat and jump back in. You can also reach your arms up as you jump up. To modify, try to just do body weight squats. Or do side to side squats: step out to one side, squat down, up and back together. Repeat on the other side. Get low, use good form and keep up your pace to raise your heart rate.

 

Jumping Jacks

 

A good old standard. To modify, take out the jump completely but keep your arms raise overhead, and bring it back in as your arms come down. Alternate your feet.

 

Mountain Climbers

 

To modify these, bring one knee in, put the foot back down and then bring the other knee in instead of running your legs. You can also angle these like the burpees and place your hands on the couch.

 

Jump Rope

 

Just pretend! Do little hops and move your arms as if you were holding a jump rope. Do calf raises instead of hops for a lower impact version.

 

Jumping Lunges

 

Oh, how these make your legs burn! To modify from the jumping aspect, just do alternating lunges by stepping back, lunge down up and back together. Add intensity by staying in a half squat with your knees bent and hips back—don’t ever come all the way up to straightening your legs. Your quads will feel it, and it increases the challenge without jumping.

 

There are so many other exercises you can perform Tabata-style: speed skaters, side to side hops, high knees, butt kicks, push-ups, core exercises, or even running stairs in the house. Just get creative, and have fun!

 

You’ll get through this not so fun time of year and still stay in great shape!

 

Bethany

Bethany Kochan started her fitness career at a local women’s fitness center at 19 years of age. This part-time job lead to a career that over 20 years later, she still loves. Bethany earned her B.S. in Exercise Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale at the same time becoming certified as a group exercise instructor. After college, she pursued NSCA-CPT and CSCS, group cycling, mat Pilates and YogaFit certifications. In 2009, she and her husband made a big move across the country to pursue his dream job in the field of strength and conditioning. At this point, Bethany began writing and training online to be both with her husband and the fitness industry. Today, the Kochans split their time between AZ and CA, pursuing their passions and enjoying life together with their two rescue Weimaraners.