The cold season is upon us, and anyone familiar with West Michigan knows that it is not a brief season. Sadly, the snow begins in November and ends in March (sometimes April). To some, playing outside in the snow or participating in winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding is highly appealing. This is a great way to stay healthy and in shape. Cross country skiing comes with a highly beneficial cardiovascular workout, along with a leg-strengthening workout. Hope College will have a Cross-Country Ski Club this year! President Kelly Peregrine (‘20) gives a description of the new-founded club: “The Hope College Cross-Country Ski Club promotes a healthy and active lifestyle through winter sport. By learning to crosscountry ski, students will care for their mental and physical well-being in the cold winter months.” Hot chocolate has also been promised. Contact Kelly at email@example.com for information or to sign up. Even going sledding or having a snowball fight with friends can be a beneficial active winter activity. However, if the cold scares you and snow does not bring you the happiness that we see in many people from Michigan, fear not. You can stay in shape while staying indoors. Furthermore, it’s not all about preparing your spring break body. It is important to stay in shape all year round in order to be a healthy individual. Take care of yourself and do it in a way that you enjoy. This is the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The Dreaded Treadmill
Working out indoors does not mean you have to stick to the stationary bike, eliptical or treadmill. However, if you enjoy these options or there is not much else available, then here are some ways you can take advantage of the mundane machines. First, on the bike, try going at a variation of speeds and resistance. Start out with a nice and easy warmup of five to ten minutes. Then, incorporate these intervals at different resistances at medium-difficult revolutions per minute (rpm): Bike Workout 1 minute hard (80-100 rpm) 1 minute easy 2 minutes hard 1 minute easy 3 minutes hard 1 minute easy 4 minutes hard 1 minute easy 5 minutes hard 1 minute easy This “ladder workout” takes only 20 minutes (without the warmup). Try it as-is to start, and as it becomes easy, you can try going back down the ladder to double the workout. This is a simple and more interesting way to utilize the bike. Similarly, intervals can be done on the treadmill. To increase the intensity on the intervals, you can raise the speed or the incline for a good sweat. Treadmill Workout 5-minute warm-up at preferred pace 1 to 3 rounds total: 1 minute 6-8 mph at 6% grade 2-minute walk 1 minute 7-10 mph at 8% grade 2-minute walk 1 minute 7-10 mph at 10% grade 2 minute walk 1 minute 7-10 mph 0% grade (should feel good!) 10-minute cooldown at preferred pace Always remember to incorporate a cooldown at the end of a higher intensity workout like this. Take these ideas as a challenge next time you go to the gym or the Dow for a cardio workout! It’s easy to make up workouts like these of a similar format on any cardio machine at the gym. Switch it up every day, and consider having longer, easypace days along with shorter duration days with high intensity bouts of exercise within the session. These may be called HIIT workouts, or high intensity interval training workouts.
Body Weight Workouts
You may want to ditch the machines and/or the gym altogether. In that case, a HIIT workout can be done anywhere with a multitude of body-weight exercises. These workouts are great because they’re easy to plan around a busy schedule and can be adapted for any individual. HIIT Workout Pick 4 exercises and do 3-5 rounds of each one for 30 seconds on, 10 seconds off: Bicycle crunches Supermans Burpees (with push up) Squat jumps Side lunges Leg lifts Tuck jumps Sit-ups Plank (forward or side) Not to mention all of the variation within each of these exercises, the options are endless. Throw on some music and set a stopwatch for a fun, quick and easy workout. This option is also ideal because it can be done anywhere you have some space, and no equipment is required.
Don’t be intimidated by the weight room. In some ways, this can be the most structured type of workout if you know how to utilize the equipment. And you do not have to be a bodybuilder or football player to lift weights. Even cross country runners lift weights. The most simple way to start is with dumbbells. Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with, and very gradually increase the weights that you use. The most basic lifts include squats, lunges, bicep curls and bench press. There are obviously much more exercises, but just these four exercises (targeting major muscle groups) can all be done with dumbells. Many weight-lifters split up their days based on specific muscle groups, and this is one way to go about it. However, if you only lift two to three times per week in your workout schedule, it is okay to hit several key muscle groups in one day. Go with your friends, get advice from more avid lifters and just have fun with it.
If you are in need of some extra arm strength but absolutely hate lifting weights, then rock climbing is a viable option for you. CrossFit Soaring Ledge on River St. has a great indoor bouldering facility. If you are up for a challenge, and don’t mind ripping up your hands a bit, this is a fun way to work on arm strength and overall endurance. And if you are feeling really motivated, you could try one of their CrossFit classes. Monday night is student night, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
If you’re still in need of ideas, there are many more options regarding indoor/ winter activities. This winter, try swimming, yoga, pilates, barre classes, jumping on trampolines at Sky Zone with friends, playing basketball and more. If you are brave enough, running outside can always be a last resort. For those avid runners out there, we know that running in the snow is possible. It is just imporant to have the right gear and be careful of ice! Wear gloves, a hat or ear warmers, long pants and layers on top. Running outside is always better with a workout buddy, as is any type of workout. Keeping all of these things in mind, planning a fit and active winter becomes plausible. You can do it! Set goals and start a workout log. Plan ahead for each week and MAKE TIME for exercise. There is always time for 15-30 minutes of exercise in a day. Just think of all of the time you spend on your phone; the minutes quickly add up. Exercising makes you more productive and time-efficient as well. As the semester moves past the halfway point, it is important to stay focused and on top of things. Making time for movement is a great way to clear your head, feel better and stay motivated.