There are some awesome advantages to belonging to an indoor-gym. Over the years, I've belonged to several and loved the workout time, and some I preferred over others, for obvious reasons.
The ones with a big variety of machines, dry and moist saunas, and plenty of space for floor work and stretching were at the top of my list.
I appreciated the gym-bling other places had available too -- like big fans blowing air conditioned breeze while I sweated through a session, and those wide, flat-screened screened tellies, hanging from the ceiling showing awesome movies like 300 that I watch no matter where I was doing my workout.
Not much can match in enhancing a cardio workout like watching a platoon of of ripped-ab sword-wielding warriors take on a gazillion enemies and making it look easy. Yup, movies like that can do wonders for those otherwise boring sessions on treadmills, ellipticals and gazelles.
Visuals can be a great tool for most of us to use in helping us attain physical fitness goals, or at least get closer to a desired result. But, it's not just fit folks that can provide us with inspirational visuals.
For all their bells, whistles and physical accommodations, I still prefer to get my kicks in dirt, grass or gravel, and even blacktop if I don't have good access to the first three. The gym can't compete with fresh air and open skies either, or a shaded tree canopy in the woods.
The down-side to that is, in Winter open skies often spit ice.
Snow I can manage (most of the time), but ice will usually keep most of us indoors. Of course, that's when that exercise machine that's collecting dust in a corner somewhere can come in handy to get you through until the chill melts off.
For most of the year though there are good reasons to consider maintaining an outdoor workout.
Usually, your workouts don't have to be hampered by the weather, barring extreme temperatures, high wind and lightning, or maybe swarms of bugs. In warm temps, wear cooler clothing. But, cold temps offer a bit more of a challenge.
Bundling up doesn't quite do the job for a workout because you gotta maintain freedom of movement. So, I suggest layering on warm clothes that aren't binding and ensuring you wear a head-cover.
Keeping your head, hands and feet warm is half the battle because they lose heat the fastest. To cover up the rest of you, unless it's blizzard conditions, I suggest silky-thermals. They don't cling to your clothing like cotton, so they won't be dragging you down with friction and make you feel like your clothes are pulling on you.
Over those I'd suggest long-sleeved tee, and top it with an over-sized fleecy interior sweatshirt or hoodie. Loose and a little baggy will work to your advantage during cold weather workouts because they allow room for added layers without being binding.
Of course, you can always invest in sleek and tight-fitting insulated sportswear, but they're usually far higher priced than sweats, tees and silky-thermals.
Heading out to brave the winter elements for a bit of exercise isn't about a look. It's about doing what it takes to stay as healthy as possible, and the more often you maintain a healthy exercise regimen, the better you'll feel. The older I get the more aware I am of how important it is.
Between the recent winter storms in the rivers' land, I've mostly been keeping up my tempo and hoofing around the neighborhood until the weather drives me back inside for a day, or two.
A walk on the wild side ...
I love that pic up above. The field was glassy and green, with large patches of mist hanging over it, like vapor-drapes. After living in the city for so many years, I often find scenery like this to be dazzling and didn't realize how much I took it for granted growing up here until I returned.
It's a good example of why outdoor workouts are often enhanced by the surrounding landscape. It's hard to not be in beautiful surroundings and feel your tension ease and your thoughts focus on good things rather than the harder parts of life that are constantly pressing on us. For at least a little while, in places like this, your mind and spirit can take a break and catch their breath while your body works at honing it's strength and recharging itself.
I know some folks get a huge amount of exercise while working. But, for anyone who will take a bit of time for to exercise for the sole purpose of feeling better, it usually has a different effect than regular work-day routines.
This is the area I spent most of my growing-up years in and though I didn't like gardening, I loved bigger scale farming. I was almost able to get the same sort of workout-high (at least some of the time) from carrying out my chores in the melon and pumpkin fields as I do from a jog/walk, bike ride, skate, or whatever else I do for sports and workout.
But, I found that other jobs that were physically demanding, didn't get me the emotional benefits I achieved during a designated workout. Spending as much time outdoors as I can for exercise gives me a bonus in soul-refreshing that I seem to have to work harder for at the gym, if I'm even to attain it at all. That's as important to me as the immediately felt physical benefits and I believe the two are co-dependent to a great extent.
Being versatile ...
Being versatile in clothing and attitude is what will keep an outdoor gym useable.
Lately, I've done several workouts in my snow boots rather than my new sneakers and once I get moving, my silky-thermal undies under a tee and heavy sweatshirt have been more than enough to keep me warm.
These work great for keeping me warm as well as being light-weight with great traction. If you want to use the great outdoors for your gym during winter, it can be done. It just means dressing warmer and keeping it functional.
I admit to having great admiration for those folks who can run around and get in a workout while nearly-nakie in snow and ice but I have no desire to join in their fun. I'd rather just be impressed and dazzled with their abilities from a distance.
Unless the cold doesn't present a challenge for you, I advise pulling on the boots, gloves, headgear and insulated undies for outdoor winter exercising.
I'm not suggesting you be an extremist and die-hard, reading to plunge ahead when the weather has just become too big to take on, but when it's not ferocious, you could be missing out on lots of fun stuff by not dressing out and giving it a try. I find all sorts of cool stuff to oooh and ahhh over when I'm out even if it's just the beautiful changes of light and shadow on a field I might walk by three or four times a week.
If you look for appealing things to focus on, you'll usually find them.
Below is a set of shots I've taken during the last two weeks. Please pardon the gloomy lighting. Several were taken during a steady drizzle of rain, about an hour before the last winter storm arrived a few days ago.
Seasonal critters ...
An advantage to outdoor adventures and exercise during the winter months is, there are no snakes, no ticks, and no spiders to cross paths with. Coyotes and cougars aren't deterred by cold weather, and of course, neither are wild pigs, dogs or a neighbor's loose bull. So, there's still a list of things to watch out for, but at least it's a smaller list in the winter than it is in the summer!
For me that's a plus because I just can't develop an appreciation for snakes, spiders and ticks and the rivers' land has them in abundance during the warmer seasons.
So, I've written this in hopes that you'll considering braving the weather to keep up a workout routine. Granted, if you live in an area that's averaging sub-zero temps, you'll need to adjust your outer-wear to accommodate, but it can be done and the benefits and fun are worth it if you're like me and prefer prefer big skies and wall-less gyms.
If you're needing to add to your inventory for winter-workout gear, here's a few cool items to consider adding to your wardrobe, or gifting to a friend, that are inexpensive and can be delivered right to your door.
Do you put in outdoor workouts during cold weather? If you do, and have some tips on routines, clothing, gear, or whatever that you'd not mind to share, please leave a comment. We'd love to hear about it and share your info!
And so, I hope you're staying warm and fit this season, if this time of year is winter for you. My friend Silvia lives near the capital city of Argentina. In her area it's mid-summer and they've been enduring a massive heat-wave while here we've got ice and often single-digit temps.
If you're in the heat, re-read this next winter! (Grin!)
That's all I've got for this one.
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