Staying active is always challenging in the winter, and with people avoiding gyms due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year will be even more difficult. As tempting as it sounds, however, this season should not be spent vegging out until the warm weather arrives. Semi-frequent exercise will reduce the risk of heart attack, strengthen the muscular system, and, most importantly, improve one’s overall mood. Staying active is essential, especially during a time in which students and faculty alike have been confined to sedentary lives behind their desks. Here are some ways I stayed active while in quarantine this past winter break, as well as some tips so that you can too.
I will begin with the obligatory plea found in virtually every fitness advice article: start running. When I began running more consistently this past fall, I became accustomed to gorgeous, 50-degree days. As you can imagine, it became difficult to maintain this routine once the temperature had dipped below freezing and my usual route was caked with snow. As I began to brave the elements more often, however, I realized that winter running has its perks. Unlike exercising in the summer, the issue of perspiration is practically non-existent. An additional benefit of running is the feeling after you have finished. Running itself can be miserable, and I do not always achieve the elusive ‘runner’s high,’ but my body and mind usually feel invincible after I have completed my route.
While running is a good source of cardio, strength training is also a great way to stay active indoors. This past winter, after growing weary of the bodyweight exercises I had been attempting in my room, I bought a set of rubber resistance bands. Not only are resistance bands cheap, but they also provide a great foundation for strength training that requires little space or skill. With the click of a button, one can find hundreds of suggestions for workouts on YouTube. Whether it be ten hammer curls after lunch or leg pulses under your desk during a Zoom class, resistance bands fit seamlessly into a day of online school. Consider investing in them; you will not regret it.
It can be hard to find the motivation to exercise in the first place. Besides the occasional run, the only reason I went outside this past fall was to skateboard. There was something euphoric about planting my feet on the grip tape, racing across the driveway, and landing ollies, kickflips, and pop-shuvits. As one can imagine, I was dreading winter because that meant skateboarding season would come to an end and my progress would stall. Fortunately, I received a carpet-safe skateboard as a gift that I can practice on in the comfort of my bedroom. Now, I am not demanding that every member of the Concord Academy community invest in an indoor skateboard in order to stay active. I am, however, a firm believer in the notion that exercise should be fun. Whether that means playing an indoor soccer game with your siblings, listening to a podcast on a winter walk, or dancing in the kitchen to your favorite song, any type of movement is beneficial to your health and wellness.
Staying active is important for mental and physical well-being, especially in a time in which everybody is leading more sedentary lives. Above all, I believe that the top priority this winter should be staying well. Whether it is outside, indoors, or virtual, it is great to figure out the ways in which you feel most comfortable working out. Consistent movement that sparks joy is a surefire way to thrive.