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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 01 2008

10 Ways to Stay Active in the Cold Winter Months

By Worker Bee

It’s January, and many of you are looking at two, three, or four more months of winter. (Yes, there you are trudging your sorry, frozen carcass outside to grab another log for the wood stove. Can you hear the violin in the background?) Seriously, there are days so brutal you’d rather eat your running shoes than head outside in them.

With snowstorms, Nor’easters, and subzero temps making headlines the last few weeks, we thought it was time for some tips on keeping your motivation up and that carcass moving.

1. Fight the winter sloth.

Too many fall prey and regret their self-imposed captivity come spring. That hunkering down mentality isn’t going to do you (your health or your social life) any favors. Winter is how many months where you live? Deal, and just live your life—all of it.

2. Dress for the occasion.
We’re talking layers: Gore Tex, primaloft or down, thinsulate, fleece, and polypropylene long johns (with or without the attractive butt flap). Just make sure you have a “dri fit” layer next to your skin, and shed as you go.

3. Don’t go it alone.
Recruit a friend or family member to brave the cold with you. (Beg or bribe if you must.) If he/she is outside waiting for you (probably cursing your name), you know you better get out there.

4. Join a gym or league.
Even the truly diehard can honorably submit to the lure of the indoors. Take it as an opportunity to vary your workout, try a class, pick up an old sport, or just enjoy a social hour over sweaty equipment. (Caveat: There’s still the cold walk to the car and back.)

5. Invest in some equipment or DVDs.
It won’t give you all the options of a gym or the socialization. Nonetheless, there’s no cold walk to the car, and the sweat is all yours.

6. Take a lap (around the pool).
If you liken the treadmill to a hamster wheel, try an indoor workout that allows for more than simulated movement. Sure, the thought of swimwear doesn’t seem natural when you’re trying to feel your toes beneath two layers of wool socks. But once you’re gliding through that blue rush, it’s almost as good as summer.

7. New season, new schedule.
If you find your workout time has been swallowed whole by winter darkness, you might find a motivation (and general health) boost by scheduling in some daylight. You know what we say around here about sun starvation!

8. Dive in!
So, the weather has upended your usual routine (and, perhaps, your mood). Lose the fixation! Quit fighting winter, and go with it. Strap on some skates, skis or snowshoes, and visualize yourself having fun. Hey, Mikey, he likes it!

9. Keep well.
Now that the holidays are over, this should be a little easier. Eat well, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep. If you maintain a health-focused mindset, your workout routine will feel more necessary.

10. One word: Sauna.
You think you have it so bad? Try those poor saps in Scandinavia! It’s how they make it through, and they seem to fare the cold and darkness pretty impressively. Sauna: need to find one…. (Most larger gyms have them.) What better motivation can there be than the chance to finally warm to the core?

Further Reading:

Mark’s Weekly Workout Routine

Can Pilates Make You Lose Weight?

Carbs Are Not the Devil

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  1. I would add “Go Skiing” to the list. We’ll be alpine skiing just about every weekend until mid April. It’s a great form of exercise if you ski intensively. If you don’t know how to ski, give it a try. The modern equipment makes it much easier than ever to reach a fun level of participation in the sport. (I suppose one could go cross-country skiing too, though that’s a bit too much like jogging for my tastes.)