By: John M. Di Fazio II
As we enter into the depths of Winter, our bodies naturally seek a hibernation state. Many face the thought of exercise with an avoidance mindset, unmotivated and rolled up under a proverbial blanket until the Spring sunshine arrives again. It’s important to defy those hibernation urges and fight back against that sluggish mindset. There are plenty of indoor exercise activities to do, whether it’s at home or in the gym. Both my wife and I are dedicated to exercising daily with weight training and cardiovascular exercise, but it’s often a nice change of pace to make exercise an outdoor adventure. A few years ago, we received two pairs of snow shoes as a gift. It was a wonderful gift and we put them to good use the very first chance that we had. It was not only great cardiovascular exercise, but also engaged the leg muscles in a very different way, which we felt during and after.
We found that walking in deep snow with snow shoes was similar to walking in sand or shallow water, but with more emphasis on resistance, engaging the quadriceps and hamstrings primarily, but also the glutes, abductors, adductors, and calf muscles. Our stride was good, as we stayed on top of the snow. The quads and hamstrings were the muscles we felt throughout the entire snowy adventure. The gluteal muscles were used in the deeper snow to power through, and the abductors, adductors, and calf muscles provided stability. My wife and I are in great shape and always stay conditioned, but when you introduce a unique movement like snow shoeing you feel the effort needed during the movement and the soreness of the muscles after in ways that even our conditioning didn’t provide. It was also a lot of fun and very scenic as we walked across our neigbor’s 43 acre organic farm and vineyard. The vines were covered in ice and snow and glistened in the sunlight and the many varieties of livestock were interested in our presence and greeted us as we trudged through the Winter winds of the open farm fields. It was a great Winter Workout and a unique adventure. We look forward to snowshoeing again throughout the Winter to create another interesting workout. It makes sitting down by a warm fire after returning from the adventure that much more satisfying. I encourage you to get out there and enjoy the adventure!
ADDITIONAL WINTER EXERCISE
- Skiing / Snowboarding
Winter can throw a lot of additional exercise our way. It’s important to keep your body conditioned for the “extra” workouts during the snow-filled Winter months. It’s also important to not be lazy about it, but to embrace it as an “extra” workout in addition to your regular training. Some Winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, and sledding can be a lot of fun, but can still be an opportunity to use muscles in different ways than we are accustomed to. Shoveling isn’t as much fun, but it’s always surprising just how sore different areas of the body are after shoveling following a big snowfall. Conditioning the body with specific exercises can help prevent injuries and will lessen the soreness and fatigue from movements which are foreign to your usual workouts.
CONDITIONING EXERCISES FOR WINTER
- Alternating Ski-downs, (sometimes called Ski-jumpers.)
- Squat Jumps with a medicine ball.
- Plank with Alternating Elbow Touch
- Front Deltoid Raise, (with dumbbells)
- Lateral Deltoid Raise, (with dumbbells)
- Rear Deltoid Raise, (with dumbbells)
You can add these exercises along with your usual routine once per week in the late Autumn to prepare and condition your body. You’ll notice the difference!
This article is also featured in Fitness Rx For Women and Fitness Rx For Men!