As the winter rolls around and the weather gets nippier, it's easy to throw in the towel when it comes to exercising outdoors. But the truth is, cold-weather walking refreshes and invigorates your senses, reduces stress, and helps you burn even more calories because your body is trying to keep itself warm, says fitness and wellness expert Shirley Archer, author of The Walking Deck. "And when most activities are focused indoors, it's great for the mind, body, and spirit to keep connected to nature," she says. Here are some tips for your wintertime stroll.
Before you head outside:
1. Motivate yourself! If the beautiful winter scenery and the cool, crisp air aren't enough to get you going, try walking with a partner or a group. If you prefer walking solo, bring along a CD or MP3 player filled with fast-paced music that'll heat up your body and your spirits (check out our playlist for some inspiration). Setting up a schedule and exploring places in your neighborhood that you haven't seen before will also encourage you to remain faithful to your winter exercise plans.
2. Apply lip balm, a moisturizing lotion, and sunscreen to keep your face protected from the cold and sun. Even though it may not seem like it, the sun's rays are just as strong in the winter, and your skin needs protection.
3. Dress in layers to keep the cold out and to give yourself the option of removing a layer if you get too warm. Start with a sports bra and a lightweight, long-sleeve top. Look for one that's made of a synthetic fabric (such as polypropylene), which wicks moisture from your body. Your next layer should be a zip-up or pullover fleece covered by a down jacket to block out the wind and keep you well insulated. Invest in walking pants that are both waterproof and wind-resistant, or wear thick leggings or pantyhose underneath your pants to add some extra warmth and keep your skin from chafing. And don't forget accessories: Mittens, a scarf, and a hat or ear band will keep you warm and cozy.