Love being active during the spring, summer and fall but find yourself slowing down over the winter and doing less physical activity? Slowing down can be a good thing, as it’s a great time for reflection, healing and inward thinking. However, the movements and exercise our bodies love to engage in should not go by the wayside. A good way to prevent the drag of exercise is to add variety to your off-season plan while helping to build your in-season performance, starting now.
Here are five ways to add variety to the winter off-season exercise regimen so you can hit the ground running once warmer weather is upon us.
- Incorporate strength training at least twice a week
- Make room to stretch daily (foam roller too!)
- Add balance exercises into the weekly routine
- Consume nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory and health-promoting foods
- Take mental breaks and improve your deep breathing
Shirley, a busy, middle-aged executive who lives and works on Capitol Hill, is a client of mine who has done an amazing job at making her health a top priority. Over the past several years, she has participated in 5k runs during the warmer months. Though Shirley has found that running outside in the cold weather is not something that she adores, she makes it a priority to incorporate two weekly strength training workouts that focus on balance, with stretching most days of the week and daily deep-diaphragmatic breathing.
Shirley regards her dedication to live a life that is health promoting during the off-season as “a life-changing experience.” When spring comes, she feels that “the consistent strength training and flexibility make the race. I feel much more prepared and stronger for my 5k’s, which allows me to enjoy the activity at hand.” The training “helps to prepare me for the things that come up in life too – such as friends who want to go on a spur-of-the-moment bike ride or a hike on a rocky, uphill trail that requires muscle strength and balance.”
Emily, a Hillian and client who is an avid triathlete, spends her winter months focused on healing her body through nutrient-dense, health-promoting foods, strength training three times per week and being more mindful by meditating and listening to her body’s needs.
“I have removed foods that I was sensitive to and cleaned up my diet – I didn’t even know I was sensitive! Yet, my body was giving me the signs, I just had to listen to it,” she explained. “Now that I have focused on nutrition for me,” she added, “I have more energy, sleep better, don’t have monthly cramps (amazing!) and my skin has cleared up. I can’t wait to see my performance improvements skyrocket starting this spring! I feel less swollen and bloated, which is such a great feeling.”
When Emily first came to see me, her nutrition plan lacked health-promoting foods. Based upon her signs and symptoms, I knew we would be able to help fuel her better for workouts so she would feel more powerful and energized, limit inflammation and help recover properly from workouts. Emily’s effort to fine tune her nutrition, strength training and mental rejuvenation has paid off greatly, with more to come in-season.
Michael, an outdoor intramural soccer player and client who lives on Capitol Hill, is focusing on flexibility, balance, strength training and nutrition this winter season. “I love playing outdoor soccer,” he shared, “but find I need a break, and the winter time is the best time for me to push the reset button.”
Giving the body a break from the regular exercise routine can provide improvements that are refreshing and new, while still allowing great gains. “Last year, I tried to focus on my flexibility, strength training and nutrition on my own. It was good, but nowhere near the amount of gains I have made so far this season since working with Stacy for just one month.”
The body thoroughly enjoys movement and desires to participate in physical activity throughout the week. With fewer hours of sunlight and the cold months in full swing, the cold season can make it more challenging to find the right workout regimen. Make room this winter, finding something new that will help you continue your personal in-season gains.
Stacy Peterson, M.S. human nutrition and functional medicine, CNS, CHHC, CSCS, is a functional nutritionist, holistic health, wellness and strength and conditioning coach practicing whole-foods nutrition and physical training to individuals of all ages on Capitol Hill. She provides an integrative approach, critical to everyone’s healthcare and performance team, helping individuals reach their health goals. For recipes, nutrition ideas and exercise tips sign up for her monthly newsletter at www.accelerationsports.net. Connect with Stacy by email, firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 805-704-7193 for a free 15-minute consultation to ask questions and discuss how she can help you achieve your digestion, overall health and fitness goals.