Five exercises to warm up for winter activities
If there’s ever been a winter to brave the winter temperature and embrace outdoor activities, this is the one. Skis, skates and snowshoes are in high demand as more Canadians venture outdoors to get some exercise. Outdoor exercise is good for your cardiovascular health and can improve your balance, as well as your mood.
Winter Health and Fitness Week is February 1 to 7, a great time to get outside and get moving. Kathleen Fursey, a personal trainer and group fitness instructor with GoodLife Fitness, suggests doing winter warm up exercises that work the muscles you’ll need for your favourite outdoor activities. She adds it’s a good idea to put in some time up front to get ready to hit the snow and ice and minimize the risk of injury. These exercises are also perfect workout moves for those who want to get the effect of winter activities, but don’t want to brave the cold!
Speed skater. If you’ve gone skating yet this year, you’ll remember how much work it was for your glutes and quads. Skating also requires cardio endurance to keep up your forward momentum, and balance to stay upright on ice. The speed skater move, where you jump sideways, back and forth in a crouch, is clearly designed to copy the moves of skating – and helps you work the right muscles and get your heart pumping, while forcing you to use your core muscles to stabilize as you move from foot to foot.
Mountain climber. When it comes to sledding, there is a LOT of walking uphill. If there’s a child in the sled, you’re also adding resistance training. While the downhill runs are fun, the uphill climb is more challenging for cardio endurance, but also requires leg and core strength to protect your back as you walk at an upward angle, and arm strength to pull the sled behind you.
Ironically, mountain climbers are the perfect exercise to ‘train’ for your next sled run. Holding yourself in plank position works your arms and core, while running with your knees boosts cardio quickly.
Alternating lunges. For fans of cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, it’s important to strengthen your glute muscles, as well as your hip flexors, quads and other muscles in your legs. Depending on how quickly you move, these outdoor activities are also great for building cardiovascular strength. Fursey recommends alternating lunges to work the right muscles. While it’s best to start with the basic move, you can make the exercise more challenging by adjusting the tempo, adding a jump as you switch legs, or holding weights while you lunge.
Pivoting squats. Snowboarding and downhill skiing require you to hold a squat position and pivot your hips and shoulders as you traverse down the hill. Fursey suggests standing in a squat position, then jumping to pivot and land in a squat, facing the other way. This kind of plyometric exercise is very good for quads and glutes, as well as core muscles required to pivot your body and stabilize.
Fast feet shuffle. Walking or running outdoors at this time of year can be considered a winter sport, and can be hazardous when the sidewalks and trails are icy. Agility and balance are important to be able to recover and stay upright. The fast feet shuffle is a familiar exercise from gym class, and a great way to reinforce mind-body connection, improve agility and boost your heartrate.
Kathleen Fursey is available to talk more about winter exercise and ideas to stay healthy indoors and out. She can demonstrate these winter sport warm up moves and talk more about how to do them safely and effectively for the best possible benefits. She teaches regular online Cardio Circuit classes on Instagram @goodlifefitness