KAUFMANN: Finding our winter ‘get up and go’

Winter is cold. On dark mornings, I often feel like emulating a hibernating bear. However, I have work to do, so I reluctantly emerge from my cave of blankets.

Am I the only one in Southwest Michigan who has trouble getting moving this time of year? Maybe lower temperatures and fewer daylight hours make staying active more challenging for all of us.

The Surgeon General’s recommendation still stands, even in winter: to be healthy, we each should be physically active for a minimum of 150 minutes a week. That is at least two hours and thirty minutes of moderate-intensity movement, to be spread out over at least 3 days a week.

(Unfortunately, peeking out from underneath our blankets to test the air temperature is not considered moderate-intensity movement.)

Sometimes I hear folks speak dreamily of Florida. After spending two years of my adult life sweating on the St. Pete peninsula, let me tell you firsthand: whether sitting in air conditioning or sitting in a heated house — we are still sitting.

So I guess it is time to wake up and accept what we have to work with! Let’s find our winter “get up and go” by trying some of the following options. And let’s invite a friend to try them with us!

If we want to exercise outside, we can:

• Wear enough layers so that we are slightly cool when we first step out the door. After walking or running, our body temperatures should rise and make us more comfortable.

• Wear waterproof shoes with good tread, and walk or run on grassy paths or trails, which tend not to ice over. Walking or running through snow burns more calories than not!

• Do our warm-up, cool-down and stretching indoors to minimize the time we spend in the cold.

• Make our local parks a regular part of our exercise plan. We can hike the trails when there is no snow, and rent their snowshoes, skis and fat bikes when there is!

If we prefer to exercise indoors, we can:

• Make ourselves exercise before we sit down in front of a screen, or exercise while we are watching our favorite shows.

• Get up during commercial breaks and repeat a simple fitness routine, such as 10 knee lifts, 10 squats, 10 push-ups (or wall pushes), and 10 crunches.

• Dance to music while dinner is cooking. For a 20-minute session, line up two new songs and dig up three old favorites.

• Walk or jog our stairs and hallways.

• Use some simple, inexpensive fitness equipment like resistance bands with handles (my favorite for traveling!).

• Join our local YMCA or gym! We can maximize our sessions by trying more than one class or activity each visit.

To get the greatest health benefits, we should strive to elevate our heart rates for a minimum of 10 minutes each time we exercise.

My favorite place to get moving is our local YMCA. I feel good because I am supporting more than a gym: we provide healthy living programs for all ages! Instead of hibernating, join me in finding our “get up and go” this winter. Here’s to our health!

Chrissie Kaufmann is a group fitness instructor at the YMCA of Southwest Michigan.

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