This time of year, there are going to be days when you just can’t make your walking circuit. The weather can throw you a curve that will keep you indoors. After all, you’re not going to be walking or jogging out in the cold in the middle of a northeaster are you? Well, if you have any common sense you wouldn’t. And we’ve been mentioning that phrase quite a bit now, in previous blog posts in this new year of 2018.
While you may not be able to get outside on some of these snowy, cold bitter days there are still some things you can do indoors that will stretch your muscles and get your heart pumping so that your body gets moving as you put it through some cardio based exercises while you are homebound.
Studies have shown that people who lose weight and keep it off, do so by exercising the equivalent of walking 3 to 4 miles a day, every day. No matter what the weather, they find a way to get in their paces, and you can too.
We put together a few indoor exercises that you can do within the confines of your home. And if you do these when the weather outside prevents you from doing your daily walking routines, at least you can maintain your muscle mobility instead of being dormant all winter long. If you maintain your walking/jogging fitness routine during the winter season when you can, you can be sure your body will maintain the strength you built up during the summer and fall seasons. And come spring, you’re walking muscles won't be screaming when you head out for your first warm-weather jaunt.
Here are a few workout routines you can try when the snow is blowing and its just not safe to be outside in below zero wind-chill numbers:
This workout mimics walking movements and targets walking muscles. It's a great way to maintain your flexibility and stay in good walking form. Do each exercise the recommended number of times, then move to the next one. Repeat the entire sequence two or three times. But remember, if you feel a twinge, back off a bit and do some stretching so that your muscles become used to the stress you’re putting on it. Then slowly increase the frequency of each routine as your body becomes used to it.
Now, since it's after Christmas, and you may not have received exactly what you were looking for. Now might just be the time to get yourself an incentive gift of a good, accurate, Fitness Watch. Sometimes, using just a Pedometer may not fit the bill and using a smartwatch or Activity Monitor that tracks your motions all day long and even tracks your sleep, while keeping tabs on your heart rate may be just the thing to track your progress as you go through these exercises and, it will be with you once the weather breaks. You will be able to track your distance, stride, calories burned and gauge your progress. I’m talking about the Fitbit Blaze. You know the name Fitbit and how it’s been well established with fitness trackers and this activity watch with a wrist-based heart rate monitor can be all that you’re going to need to make sure you're meeting your fitness goals, now and in the future.
Now, let’s talk about those indoor exercises.
Leg circles. (Keeps the hips flexible and strong) Holding onto a wall for support, lift your right leg out in front of you, bending the knee to form a 90-degree angle. Your thigh should be parallel to the floor as if you're marching. Rotating at the hip, circle your leg to the right as far as possible. Don't move any other part of your body. Slowly lower your leg, then bring it back to the forward position again. Do 10 to 12 circles. Repeat with your left leg.
Hip circles. (Keeps hips flexible and mobile; especially important for speed walkers) Stand about 2 feet from a wall, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing forward. Lean into the wall, and place both hands on the wall for support. Bend your knees slightly, and circle your hips clockwise, as if you're a belly dancer. Do 10 to 12 full circles, then rotate your hips counterclockwise.
Heel walks. (Strengthens the shins, an area that often gets sore when you resume walking and helps with heel-toe technique) Walk by balancing on your heels only; your feet should be flexed and your toes pointing toward the ceiling. Do a lap around your living room.
Toe walks. (Strengthens the calves, and helps with heel/toe technique) Walk by balancing on the balls of your feet, heels off the floor. Do a lap around your kitchen or living room.
Windmills. (Keeps the shoulders flexible and agile, which are essential for a good arm swing as your walking or jogging, and trains you to keep your shoulders back and down) One at a time, circle each arm forward, up, back, and down. Alternate for 10 to 12 windmills with each arm, then reverse the direction.
For variety: Do the heel and toe walk with your heels or toes pointing a bit inward or outward, this targets the shin and calf muscles differently. You can also reverse the leg circles by lifting your legs up and out to the side first, then rotating forward and down. Also, consider adding aerobic clips such as climbing stairs or using the bottom step for a few minutes of step aerobics (pump up the intensity by adding arm movements).
Flex some muscle: Your thighs and butt have the largest primary muscles that propel you forward when you walk. Keep them strong with these three at-home exercises recommended by Memer Kladis, assistant director for The National Institute for Fitness and Sport in Indianapolis.
Step lunges. (Works the quadriceps, or front of the thighs) Facing a staircase, place your right foot on the bottom step and your left foot several feet behind you on the floor. Lower your body until your right leg forms a 90-degree angle. Make sure that your right knee stays over your ankle. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position, concentrating on pushing up through your right heel. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps before switching to your left leg.
One-legged curls. (Works the hamstrings, or back of the thighs) Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, your right knee bent, and your foot flat on the floor. Place your left foot on a standard-size kid's ball (12 to 18 inches in diameter). Supporting yourself on your back, arms, and right leg, raise your pelvis a few inches off the floor. Digging your left heel into the ball, slowly curl it toward you. Pause, then slowly push the ball back, resisting the ground as you roll. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps before switching legs.
Pelvic tilts. (Works the gluteus maximus, also known as the butt) Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and your heels resting on a low stool, step, or box; your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Tighten your butt, and slowly lift your pelvis as high as is comfortable. Pause, then slowly lower without touching the floor. Repeat. Do 8 to 12 tilts.
Because the abdominals are core-stabilizing muscles used in walking, consider doing a set or two of crunches as well. And stretch all the muscles that you just worked.
This may not be the same as being outside and enjoying that cold, crisp, winter air and viewing the clean snowy vistas as you go about your daily walk or jog, but by doing these walking exercises when the weather is against you, will help you to stay in a routine that will keep your mind, muscles, and figure primed for springtime, and the start of warmer weather! Now, that’s something to look forward to as well!
From your fellow artic hikers at PedometersUSA.com