Jan 28, 2020 Keep Moving to Stay Fit in the Winter

During the winter, it’s tempting to put exercise on hold until warm, sunny days return. But there are a lot of good reasons to keep moving.

Working out can reduce anxiety and blood pressure and improve your quality of sleep. It can also help reduce arthritis pain, lower your risk of developing eight types of cancer and slow the progression of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

What’s more, if you exercise regularly, you’ll be less likely to gain weight, become lethargic and eat poorly.

Pete DeFranzo, Trainer, Robert Wood Johnson Fitness & Wellness Center
Pete DeFranzo, Trainer, RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center, Old Bridge
“When you make one good choice, it’s easier to make another good choice, such as eating healthy,” says Peter DeFranzo, a trainer at Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) Fitness & Wellness Center in Old Bridge. “It’s what we call a ‘positive feedback loop.’”

Here, DeFranzo offers advice on how to stay active when there’s a chill in the air.

How much exercise do I need?

The government’s recently updated Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. That translates into about 20 to 40 minutes per day. The Guidelines also recommend strength training, such as lifting weights, on two days per week. Kids ages 6 through 17 need at least one hour of moderate-to-vigorous activity daily. Moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking, household chores and dancing. Examples of vigorous activities include running, swimming laps and hiking.

If I don’t belong to a gym, how can I stay fit?

Move as often as you can—and monitor your activity with a fitness tracker, if possible. Create a goal for yourself, like taking 8,000 to 14,000 steps each day (check with your physician first). The average American takes about 3,000 to 4,000 steps per day. Add an extra 1,000 steps per day every two weeks until you’ve reached your goal. If you’re snowed in, walk up and down the stairs in your home. Keep in mind, even chores, such as doing laundry and taking out the garbage, count as exercise.

What types of outdoor exercise do you recommend during the winter?

Walking (especially up hills), snowshoeing, cross country skiing, shoveling snow—and even throwing snowballs with your kids or grandkids—are great calorie burners. Since the snow and ice can lead to falls, be sure to wear slip-resistant sneakers or boots.

How does “exercise planning” benefit people who work out at RWJ Fitness & Wellness?

Members have access to a trainer during orientation. We can identify any movement patterns that could lead to knee, low back, neck or shoulder strain. We also ask about a person’s fitness goals and preferences. Based on that information, we create a custom weekly exercise routine. So, for instance, on Mondays you might swim, and on Tuesdays you might take a group exercise class. We focus on achievable milestones, which helps people stay motivated. We also advise working out with a friend, which can make exercise fun and hold you accountable for sticking with your plan.

Visit the RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center online for more information.