Thinking about getting yourself more active now that the holidays are passed? Are you maybe a little depressed and a little guilty, about your waistline feeling a little uncomfortable behind the buttons of your jeans? Well, fear not, you don’t have to do any kind of internet search to see which gym is offering the best deals on a membership plan. Simply dig out those sneakers from the back of your closet, for now, lace them up and head out the door and simply walk. That’s right, we said, go out the door and walk. What do you mean its winter time now, and you’re not going to go outside and walk in this kind of weather?

Winter can be the perfect time to walk off weight, even if you're not right now an active winter enthusiast. Sticking with your usual exercise routine is one of the best ways to boost your chances of starting the New Year a size smaller.

If you've gotten used to walking outdoors all summer, switching to a different activity for cold weather in the winter can make your weight loss even more of a struggle, says John Jakicic, Ph.D., assistant professor in the weight control and diabetes research center at Brown University School of Medicine in Providence, RI.

Finding a new activity, built around doing something indoors, may mean organizing your day differently or doing something that you're not as comfortable with. Especially during an already chaotic and stressful time.

Research shows that people who lose weight and keep it off do so by exercising the equivalent of walking 3 to 4 miles a day. No matter what the weather, they find a way to cope with the colder weather Mother Nature’s sends our way this time of year, and you can too.

We are going to offer some steps that will make your walking in the winter cold something you can look forward to, so that you can slim down, and get yourself ready for springtime!

But like everything that is worthwhile, you need to monitor yourself and work towards a specific, doable goal. To do this, you need to track your progress. One tool that will help you work towards your straight and narrow path is a good activity monitor like the
Garmin Vivosmart Strapless Heart Rate & Activity Tracker  In addition to measuring steps, calories, and distance, the Vívosmart HR measures floors climbed with its integrated barometric altimeter. Whether you’re going for a swim or trying out a new boot camp class, it measures your activity intensity with intensity minutes. This feature lets you monitor your progress against activity goals recommended by health organizations such as the American Heart Association  So you see, this activity tracker will provide you with the necessary data to meet your goals now, and be with you when you feel like adding additional fitness activity, once the sun warms up the spring and summer seasons.

Your new goal to help motivate you will be imagining how great you’re going to look come spring, your bones will stay strong, and your walking muscles won't be screaming when you head out for your first warm-weather jaunt. You’re going to be ahead of the game, unlike your friends who have been hibernating all through this cold, crisp winter season.

Baby, it's great outside! (How about that little change from the Christmas Jingle?) Walking in the winter offers you a refreshing change of pace. The invigorating cold air can clear your mind and reduce stress, which can be helpful for weight loss. Research shows that stress can increase levels of cortisol, a hormone that may increase appetite and promote fat storage. Getting outside during daylight hours also increases levels of serotonin, a hormone that helps calm cravings. Even if you have to walk slower because of the weather, you may be burning more calories, as trudging through snow or walking into the wind takes more energy

Boldly into the cold! (Like that, Star Track Fans?) Leave that old college sweatshirt in your closet. Instead, treat yourself to something new that’s geared for the colder weather. High-tech synthetic fabrics make a big difference in comfort; they're worth the investment. You'll be much happier and more energized if you're warm and dry instead of sweaty and chilled. Remember, cotton fabrics are not made to be worn next to the skin. They will only keep the sweat that you create trapped between you and the material, which will over time make you colder, along with chaffing your skin. Cold weather requires some special preparation. Keep these tips in mind for winter walking:

Allow at least 10 minutes to warm up. When its cold, your heart, and muscles need more time to get ready. Do a little jogging in place to help warm yourself up. Do some stretching and knee bends to loosen up those muscles.

Wear a scarf or mask loosely over your nose and mouth to prevent the sting of icy cold air when you inhale. This is especially important if you have asthma or heart problems.

Choose shoes with lugged soles for traction, and buy an inexpensive pair of ski or walking poles to help keep your balance. (The poles will also help you burn extra calories because your upper body is getting a workout too.) Nice little hint/trick, right?

Dress for success! No, this is not a self-help course on getting a job! When you step outside, you should feel slightly chilled but not cold. During your workout, you want to feel warm, not hot and sweaty. That means you need to dress in layers so that you can take them off or put more on as needed. Here are the basics of layering:

An inner layer made of synthetic fabric to wick sweat away so you stay dry. There are many on the market out there, just do a little internet searching and in the long run, (Get It? LongRun… Just Had to do it!) you’ll be glad you did.
A middle, or insulating, layer (or two) of light-weight fleece fabric garments to keep you warm.
An outer layer of waterproof, breathable fabric such as Gore-Tex to buffer you from the elements and let sweat escape; and don’t forget a hat, gloves, and sunscreen!

Don't let the cold stop you from putting your regular walking exercise routines on hold until St. Patrick’s Day comes around. Just prepare yourself for the colder weather and get out and see just how Mother Nature has changed the landscape of your usual trek, to one with a little shimmer of an icy glaze on the branches and streams that you pass by.

There is just something about being out and about at this time of year that will really help to put that bounce back in your step. So get out, get walking and the warmer temps will be upon you sooner than you think!



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