December was the perfect storm affecting your exercise routine: multiple holidays gatherings, feasts and, not to mention, that bitter crisp cold air. Now that 2024 is here, it’s time for some of us to make New Year’s resolutions to incorporate new exercise habits. According to the American Heart Association, exercise and staying active lowers the risk of heart disease, improves sleep and cognition, and decreases symptoms of anxiety, among many other benefits . If you’re looking for ways to spring into action with new exercise routines, but going to the gym or being out in the bitter cold aren’t ideal for you, here are some fun exercise ideas you can engage in to stay active this winter.
- Try indoor sports. Pickleball has been around since 1965 but has recently become popular in the U.S. It is a great form of cardiovascular exercise, and strangers and friends alike can come together to play games. For something a little more fast paced, racquetball is a great workout. Batting cages and bowling are a lot of fun as well. If you’re finding you enjoy these types of indoor sports, information about existing intramural leagues can be found at your local fitness centers and online.
- Try mall walking. A great form of exercise that is less intense is walking around shopping malls in your area. This trend has gained some traction in the recent months. A change of scenery can be nice, and even after the holidays, malls can be a fun option for a mid-day stroll.
- Short spurts of movement at home or at the office can often do the trick. If you’re looking to exercise and you don’t want to go far, calisthenics—using your own body weight for resistance—are a great form of exercise. Calisthenics have been shown to improve posture and preserve lean body mass while reducing fat . Squats, planks, push-ups, sit-ups, and more can all be done without any equipment from wherever you are. If you’re looking to step up your game, jump rope is a high intensity form of cardio exercise that you can challenge yourself with – and you will work up a sweat! If you’re on a time budget, the emerging trend of “exercise snacks” is a great way to get your heart rate up and to reduce triglyceride levels in the blood after meals.  “Exercise snacks” are small intervals of vigorous intermittent exercise, for 1 minute at a time and performed periodically throughout the day.
These are only a few ideas, but when it comes to keeping moving, the sky is the limit. Be creative and share your stories with others, because when you feel good, wellness is contagious!
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- American Heart Association. (2023, October 24th). American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitnessbasics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults
- Thomas, et al. (2017). The effects of a calisthenics training intervention on posture, strength and body composition. Isokinetics and Exercise Science. 25. 1-8. 10.3233/IES-170001.