Keep Your Bones Strong All Year Long! How to Plan for Winter Outdoor Exercise

Keep Your Bones Strong All Year Long! How to Plan for Winter Outdoor Exercise

11-Redwing Blackbird Feb. 3, 2015Keep your bones healthy in all seasons! Bone density can drop in the winter because we’re making less of the “sunshine vitamin”, Vitamin D, which is necessary for calcium absorption. It might also have something to do with not getting as much exercise. As the long Indian summer fades into late fall, with one snow storm already behind us, winter is seriously coming on strong and I get a little nervous about staying motivated to exercise in my favorite spot: the out of doors. It feels a bit claustrophobic knowing that it won’t be as easy and pleasant to be outside and the leaves will be gone for 5 months.

My question is always, how will I make it through the cold, dark months with good cheer, good fitness, and good bones when I don’t have my instant daily hit of outdoor happiness? It takes some planning.

I thrive on getting outdoors for my exercise. It refreshes my whole body, brain, and keeps my emotions happy. That outdoor air is magic, giving a spring to my step and harder push on my pedals. It’s easy to go down those trails a while longer, giving myself any excuse to extend my walk, jog, bike ride, or stay outside to garden a bit before heading off to work. When my kids were little, I kept a stash of metal dumbbells down by the pond for outdoor strength training while they played in the water. The weights got a bit rusty and ugly, but worked just fine for keeping my bones strong and preventing osteoporosis! Adding the freshness of the outdoors to my workouts helped get them done.

Getting ready to hike with my daughter in sub-zero weather last winter. Balaclavas and goggles keep faces warm!

One of my best tips for outdoor exercise: Clothes make the outdoor woman!—Not in the fashion sense (although that’s always fun), but keeping you dry, warm, and cozy—and active!  They make all the difference in getting out with comfort or being confined indoors for winter exercise. Simply getting those clothes on will help you get out of the door.

I look at clothes as exercise equipment. Clothes play their part keeping me outdoors as long and as much as possible in the cold months. My Christmas and birthday lists usually consist of outdoor athletic clothing and other random pieces of exercise equipment that help entice me to move.

Don’t you love REI’s, #Optoutside paid day off for its employees today, Black Friday? How nice for them to have two days off in a row. Getting the high tech, high quality gear from sporting goods stores like REI is a treat, but exercise clothing doesn’t need to be expensive, especially if you layer it. You might be surprised at the variety of workout clothing, for indoor or outdoor, that you can find at discount stores.

What’s important is making sure that you keep moving when your options are limited because of weather. If the right outfit helps keep you motivated to move in the winter, put it on your wish list! Do what it takes to stay fit and keep your bones strong, for life!

Let us know your favorite clothes for winter exercise in the comments below! 

Thanks and cheers! —Susie

Comments (Scroll to the bottom to leave your comment)

  1. Thanks for this blog! I am mainly a walker but also like snowshoeing and cross country skiing when conditions are right (which is not often here). A couple of simple things that help me stay warm outdoors: I wear glove liners under my regular gloves. When I warm up I take the outer gloves off and still have some protection. I love neck gaiters or a good scarf to keep me warm on cold days – just like weather-stripping around my neck! And wool socks with sock liners underneath. I also discovered years ago that making sure my winter shoes or boots are roomy enough to work with thicker socks makes a big difference in keeping my feet warm. If my feet are even a little pinched they get cold.

  2. Becky, I appreciate that you took the time to list your excellent tips. They’re going to be helpful for those who are still trying to figure out how to be comfortable in the cold. You have it down to a science, making winter exercise doable and fun. Thanks so much!

  3. After my divorce, I took a running class…I started in the spring and continued into the winter. I didn’t think it was possible to run in the cold, but I was amazed at how warm a person gets when moving. You can be sweating under your wool cap and it’s so invigorating and fun to run in the brisk weather..Give it a try!

  4. You’re so right, Geri, at the amount of heat you can generate in the cold. I used to try to find the perfect lightweight jacket that wouldn’t be too cool at first, but now simply wear layers so that I’m comfortable throughout my cross-country ski or brisk walk. I take the first layer off about halfway through and tie it around my waist….unless it’s sub-zero and then everything stays on!