Increase Your Intensity: Treadmills are a worthwhile alternative when winter rears its ugly head - especially if sidewalks are icy or temperatures are dangerously low. However, treadmill training isn't a perfect substitute. When you're running outside, weather and terrain variables keep your body guessing:
- The wind provides extra resistance.
- Hills challenge your leg muscles
- Varying terrains improve your balance and make you more self-aware of your running style.
- Unlike the belt on the treadmill, the ground cannot keep your feet moving - Your body and mind are forced to do all the work, including setting the pace.
By working outdoors whenever possible, you'll likely be working harder and for longer stretches of time.
Train for a Race: Because indoor workouts can very quite dramatically from those performed outdoors, the springtime is the perfect opportunity to start training for a race. According to a New York Times article on winter training, "you really cannot get the same training effect with indoor substitutes. That’s not to say that indoor training is useless, but rather that it has real limitations, with differences that sometimes are subtle, but significant." So, skip the treadmill and head outside to adequately prepare for your next race.
Start or Join a Fitness Group: Exercising in groups can keep you from getting bored during your workouts and boost your motivation. Unfortunately, getting a group together for a workout inside a gym is nearly impossible unless you have access to indoor courts or areas. So, throughout spring and summer, don't continue your solo workout trend - take your exercise outside and make your workout time double as social time.
Refuse to be Bored: The spring thaw is synonymous with new life. Apply the same principal to your workout by switching your exercise routine up. Not only will you feel rejuvenated by the novelty of varied activities, but you'll make more progress toward your fitness goal. According to an Active.com article, "A fitness plateau occurs when your body adapts to the 'work' of your workout and as a result the gains you once received begin to slow and level off." Conquer your fitness plateau by enjoying the activities that were previously off-limits as a result of low temps and inclement weather.
Join an outdoor Sports League: For the spring and summer, incorporate a sports league into your fitness routine. Sports activities will train different muscles than stationary machines and can be less monotonous than traditional workouts. Plus, who doesn't like a friendly rivalry between softball teams?
Use Cabin Fever to Your Advantage: For the summer lovers who suffer from the winter blues, the spring thaw is the perfect time to take advantage of the extra motivation to stay outdoors. Instead of soaking up the springtime bliss by hooking up the porch swing, get moving! Take a long walk, coordinate an active family outing, or spruce up your yard for the summer. These may not seem like very vigorous activities, but even light gardening burns about 330 calories per hour.
What are you waiting for? Catch some spring fever and get moving!