The colder weather and shorter days of winter can put a damper on your walking program, but don't give up! Although cold weather can be challenging, it can also be invigorating. Approach the challenges from a perspective of managing them instead of letting them defeat your efforts.
Dress for success.
Technology has come a long way with what used to be bulky, winter athletic wear. Silky thermals with ventilation panels, quick drying micro-fleece, lightweight high-tech materials that keep you warm but wick away moisture (Thermax, Thinsulate, Polypropylene) and water resistant shells, such as those made with GoreTex, all make it easy to dress for exercise in the cold.
Dress in layers that you can peel off as you warm up if needed. The following three layers are usually sufficient: 1) a base layer to draw moisture away from skin, 2) a middle layer to provide warmth, and 3) an outer layer to protect against wind and rain. Wear gloves to prevent frostbite on fingertips, and wear a hat to avoid losing body heat through your head.
Don’t ignore the sun.
Don’t skimp on sun protection just because it’s cloudy and cold. Continue to apply sunscreen with at least 15 SPF, wear a lip balm with sunscreen, wear a hat to protect your head, and consider sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare of a bright winter’s day.
You may not sweat as much during winter workouts as you do on hot, humid days, but winter exercise still causes dehydration. Drink fluids regularly to stay hydrated and to maintain your exercise performance. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults aim to drink around 0.4 to 0.8 liters of fluid per hour during exercise.
Stay safe at all hours.
The shorter winter days make it more difficult to walk during daylight. If you have to walk in the early morning or evening, make sure that your gear is equipped with reflective materials. Some workout clothing has reflective piping, but adhering reflective tape to your outerwear is an inexpensive alternative. Carry your cell phone and a form of identification. Walk with others whenever possible. Always let someone know when and where you are going, and how long you will be gone.
Be aware of road conditions.
The worst part of winter walking is often the condition of your walking path. Keep your eyes on the road to watch for slippery icy patches. If you need new walking shoes, now is the time to get them. A newer pair will provide better traction.
Know the danger signs.
In addition to the danger of falls from icy conditions, frostbite is another risk of exercising in cold weather. Frostbite starts as frostnip where the skin turns bright red, is very cold, and may tingle. Small exposed areas such as fingers, toes, ears and the nose are the most susceptible. Ignoring these symptoms can lead to superficial frostbite where the skin turns white and damage can begin to occur. Cover all exposed skin and take care to get inside if frostbite symptoms begin.
Assess your indoor options.
When it’s simply too cold, look for indoor walking options in your community. Shopping malls often open early to allow walkers to exercise. The perimeters of supermarkets also offer a sufficient walking area. If a treadmill is your only option, plan your workout during your favorite television show, and use interval training with speed and inclines to make the session less monotonous. Walking videos are a great option for at-home workouts.
Consider other activities.
While you may love walking, winter can provide the perfect opportunity to try something new. Now you can take advantage of the muscle conditioning class at the gym, try indoor cycling, or sign up for dance lessons.
Your target heart rate is a range that predicts how hard you work during exercise. Tracking your heart rate helps you find a challenging exercise intensity while also helping you to avoid pushing beyond a safe level.
Target heart rate zones are based on a percentage of the fastest rate that your heart can beat per minute. This is known as the maximal heart rate and can be calculated using the following formula:
maximal beats per minute (bpm) = 206.9 - (age in years x 0.67) *
Once you know your maximal heart rate, you can find your target heart rate range for exercise. For moderate-intensity exercise, aim for a heart rate that is 50 - 70% of your maximal heart rate. For vigorous exercise, aim for 70 - 85% of your maximal heart rate.
Below is an example equation for a 40 year old person exercising at moderate intensity.
206.9 - (40 x 0.67) = 180 bpm maximal heart rate
180 x 0.50 = 90 bpm (at 50% maximal heart rate)
180 x 0.70 = 126 bpm (at 70% maximal heart rate)
To exercise at a moderate intensity, this person should keep her heart rate between 90 and 126 bpm throughout the workout.
Exercise intensity and target heart rate vary from person to person. Beginners should exercise at the lower end of their target heart rate range and increase intensity slowly as the body becomes more fit. Aim for an intensity that meets your goals for calorie burning, challenges your current fitness state, and is safe and tolerable. The best intensity is one that is challenging enough to benefit your heart, lungs, muscles and bones, while not being so intense that you risk injury.
*Another popular equation is (220 - age in years), but the American College of Sports Medicine recommends this more accurate equation.
This salad is perfect for a light and healthy lunch. It’s topped with nutritious vegetables and nuts, along with a sprinkle of dried cranberries for sweetness. The fresh cranberry dressing has a splash of orange that brings all of the flavors together. Pair it with a cup of soup, or add some protein with roasted chickpeas or grilled chicken for a full meal.
Serving Size 1 salad
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8.3g
4%Saturated Fat 0.8g
Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrate 17.2g
Dietary Fiber 5.2g
The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Yield: 4 small salads
Preparation time: 15 minutes
10 to 15 whole, fresh cranberries
4 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/8 tsp fine ground sea salt
5 cups mixed lettuces or greens
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
2 green onions, sliced
8 white button mushrooms, sliced
1 medium carrot, shredded
¼ cup pecan halves
¼ chopped dried cranberries
In the bowl of a small food processor, combine the fresh cranberries, orange juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and form a dressing.
Place the lettuce, spinach, green onions, mushrooms, carrot, pecans and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat.
Properly using leftovers is a great way to increase the efficiency of home cooking. A big slow cooker of pinto beans can be stretched for use as a hearty lunch, the filling for breakfast burritos, and a side dish for tacos later in the week. When using leftovers, it’s important to be concerned about food safety because many people overestimate how long properly stored leftovers will last. Consuming leftovers beyond their "safe date" increases the risk for foodborne illness.
Always refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible, making sure that they don't stay at room temperature for more than 2 hours. (This time limit drops to 1 hour in hot weather.) Ensure that your refrigerator is set below 40 Fahrenheit; otherwise bacteria can multiply quickly in the food.
Label each container with the date so that you don't forget when it was prepared, and always throw it out if there is any question concerning its safety. It's better to be safe than sorry and sick.
The lifespan of leftovers varies depending on the type of food. Refer to the information below when determining if the leftovers in your fridge are still safe to eat.
Cooked Seafood 1-2 days
Fruit and Cream Pies 2-3 days
Cooked Beef, Ham, Pork, Poultry, Fish and Meat Casseroles 3-4 day
Cooked Fresh Vegetables 3-4 days
Soups, Stews & Sauces 3-4 days
Pizza 3-4 days
Homemade Dips 3-4 days
Cooked Pasta 3-5 days
Pre-packaged Lunch Meats(opened) 3-5 days
Baked Muffins 7 days
Cooked Rice 7 days
Hard Cooked Eggs 7 days
Hot Dogs(opened) 7 days
Food safety information from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the University of Idaho
The American Council on Exercise recently sponsored a study that identified which exercises most effectively work the large chest muscle known as the pectoralis major (or pecs). Incorporate these moves into your upper body workouts to maximize your exercise time.
Barbell Bench Press: This classic gym exercise activated the chest muscles the most out of the nine exercises that were tested. If you are new to strength training, don’t let this weight room exercise scare you. Beginners can start by using only the bar for weight until you get comfortable with proper form. Then you can begin to add 5-to-10 lb plates on each side as you get stronger.
Pec Deck Machine: The pec deck came in a close second to the bench press. While this is a popular machine found in most gyms, experts recommend practicing caution when using the pec deck. Many use bad form and lift too much weight, which can injure the shoulder joint. If you plan to use it, ask a trainer to help you set it up safely.
Bent-forward Cable Crossover: Not far behind the pec deck, the cable crossover is the third most effective chest exercise. Proper position and use of the cables can take a while to get used to. Start with a small amount of weight and ask a trainer to check your form as you perform this exercise.
These three exercises are very close in their level of muscle activation; therefore, experts reported that they can be used interchangeably to train the chest muscles. Six additional exercises were tested, but they were much less effective at working the pecs than the top three.
What exercise was the least effective? Standard push-ups. This doesn’t mean that you should stop doing them, but you will need to do almost twice as many push-ups to get the same result as you will from the top three exercises.