Cold weather can’t stop you

Tips for staying active during a socially distanced winter
Published February 1, 2021

You probably didn’t think we’d still be in a pandemic in the depths of winter, but here we are. Staying active through the cold months can be tough in the best of times, but with the added stress and inconvenience of remaining socially distant and adhering to lockdown protocols, you might be feeling extra overwhelmed.

But fret not! There are lots of ways to keep things moving. We’ve got some top tips from Jillian Michaels, health and fitness expert and creator of The Fitness App.

“The list here is really limitless,” Michaels says. “Of course, if you are an outdoors person, you can engage in winter sports – skiing, skating, snowboarding. If [you] don’t live in super cold areas of the world, you can still hike, bike, jog, kayak, paddleboard.”

If you’re not an outdoors person, and you have some extra cash to burn, Michaels suggests buying a piece of fitness equipment like a Mirror or a Peloton.

A less expensive option, she says, is to do FaceTime training sessions with a personal trainer. And the least expensive option, and in her opinion, the most varied and effective option, is to use a fitness app. The WW app is a great resource as it has on-demand workouts for all fitness levels through Aaptiv and FitOn.

On the other hand, if you’re more familiar with exercise and don’t need any of the above tools, Michaels says the obvious investment would be some dumbbells, bands or tubing, and your own body. “This is literally all you need to get an incredible workout – provided you know how to train effectively,” she says.

If you’re not super familiar with how to work out properly, Michaels suggests getting some expert help to make sure you avoid injury and get great results.

Going to the gym

If you’re in an area where gyms are still open for use, you might consider making that your winter go-to. But remember, you will have to follow the gym’s health and safety protocols, which will likely mean careful sanitation, keeping your distance from other people and wearing a mask the entire time you’re there. This last point may be difficult, as some people find wearing a mask while exercising can make it harder to breathe.

“This is really so hard,” says Michaels. “I personally really struggle with it, which is kinda crazy considering I am pretty fit. I want to be positive about it, but I find most people can’t really do it, so they end up touching the mask constantly to sneak a breath – which is worse in my opinion, because you are touching everything and then touching the mask/your face.”

If you find wearing a mask while working out negatively impacts your breathing, Michaels suggests working out outside and keeping your distance from other people, or training at home, where you don’t need to wear one.

Working out outside

If you opt for exercising outside in winter, the best thing you can do is gear up.

“Gear is key here. As long as you have the right gear, you are good to go,” says Michaels. “Winter training gear for any sport – running to skiing – exists. Invest in it, as it makes such a huge difference.”

And bear in mind that your body will warm up as you get into your workout, so you won’t be freezing the whole time.

“I also find that as you warm up and get further into your workout, the body clearly is warming up from the inside out, so it’s really just the initial five minutes you will need to push through,” she says.

And remember, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with working out at home.

Sweating at home

“At-home fitness has always been big – before the pandemic and, of course, now during it,” Michaels says. “The reason is because it has always provided people with convenience, affordability, flexibility and more. Take advantage of that. Don’t get discouraged because you don’t have the gym – you don’t need it.”

If you’re like Michaels, you might be missing the social aspect of going to the gym, though. If this is hard for you, she suggests getting your friends on FaceTime and doing a workout together.

“You could download an app to your TV or cast it to your TV and then have your friends on another screen (computer, tablet, et cetera) all training together,” she says. “Do whatever it takes to help keep yourself motivated, accountable and supported.”