Working Out in Cold Weather

Experts recommend plenty of ways to get active in wintertime

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

The weather may be frightful, but don’t let this winter “go to waist.” Area experts recommend plenty of ways to get active and stay fit.

Tips from physician Joanne Wu, board-certified integrative and holistic medicine and rehabilitation doctor:

• “I’m a big outdoorsy person, so I always coach people about getting outside. If it is a nice day, I tell people to ski, take hikes and snowshoe.

• “Ice skating is somewhat accessible.

• “Curling is something I talk with people about. Some are shy about it, but it’s a winter sport. You don’t have to be out in the elements — you can do it in an indoor ice skating rink — but it is a winter sport and it gets people active and together.

• “But if there’s a blizzard, you can stay active without going out. Indoors, try new things I don’t normally do when the weather is nice. Look up things exciting things like maybe rock climbing or indoor volleyball that are one-off of what you’d normally do.

• “Try indoor leagues for soccer.”

Tips from Mary Shaw, active older adult coordinator at Ken-Ton Family YMCA in Kenmore:

• “Indoor cycling is a really great cardiovascular workout. The music is very motivating. It’s a super way to maintain fitness, especially for people who ride in warmer months — but even for those who don’t.

• “Try a treadmill or indoor track. Join a gym where you have access to that equipment or where you can do strength training with free weights. Or you can try any group classes or aquatics classes. Getting out of the house where you’re seeing other people you know can make a huge difference with seasonal affective disorder when we’re stuck in the house in the winter.

• “If you prefer things at home, there’s a wealth of DVDs to purchase to workout with or YouTube videos.

• “If you don’t mind being in the outdoors, cross-country or downhill skiing or snowshoeing is great cardiovascular exercise.”

Tips from Andy Cowan, fitness director and certified personal trainer at LeRoy Physical Therapy and Village Fitness in LeRoy, Macedon and Batavia:  

• “Join a fitness facility. That way you’re inside.

• “Join a fitness class that keeps you interested and motivated.

• “We do a few different ‘boot camps’ like a cardio boot camp and a strength boot camp. People at first seem intimidated, but there’s times where you can choose your weights like a 5-pound weight instead of a 10. Or you can reduce the amount of reps. You can push yourself a little without overdoing it. Boot camps can be motivating as you see someone around your age doing or lifting more.”

Tips from Joe Fox, certified personal trainer and founder and owner of Train Smart, Buffalo:

• “It’s important to try to get out in winter, as long as you have the right outerwear. If the weather is really, really bad, maybe go to the mall and walk laps.

• “You may need to do short workouts where you do them at home with little equipment in little space. These can make a huge difference.

• “When it’s really cold out, try racquetball, indoor tennis or get to a gym and do some walking or wall climbing. I’m not a huge fan of stationary cardio equipment, but elliptical or treadmills are better than nothing.