Local fitness experts weigh in on how to make the most of the white stuff.
Article from Melrose MA Patch by Kate House
More than 60 inches of snow has fallen in Melrose since Jan. 1. If you prefer the Great Outdoors when you get your exercise, chances are your fitness routine has taken a hit as of late. But with polls and studies released as recently as the past two weeks showing that 76 percent of people in the northeastern U.S. states battle severe blues in the winter and that regular exercise can help overweight children’s cognitive abilities, it can be difficult to justify a sedentary winter.
The truly depressing part? We’re probably not out of the woods yet. The Melrose region typically sees an average snowfall of eight inches of snow even in March, with an average of four snowy days that month.
Since neither cursing at snowbanks nor sliding on black ice counts as cardio activity, it might be a perfect time to consider these three tips on using snow to your advantage, provided by fitness experts across Melrose.
1. Don’t doubt the plow. More local trails are plowed than you might suspect, says Sue Rittenburg, owner of Body Empower in Melrose, where class participants follow the Les Mills program with an emphasis on group fitness. Her favorite winter walk this year? The paths at nearby Breakheart Reservation , which are regularly cleared of snow and are very kid-friendly.
“It’s like a winter wonderland,” Rittenburg said. “Get Yaktrax or spikes that secure to your footing. It really gets your heart working and lifts your spirits. You’re double-dipping: You get a great workout and it lifts the winter blues.”
Another great—if unlikely—place to rev up your ticker? Cemeteries. Joy Fay of Melrose Boot Camp (whose next session is about to kick off on Feb. 28) is a big fan of the cleared paths of Wyoming Cemetery.
“I head to the cemetery, where cars and dangerous sidewalks are not factors,” Fay said. “For many of us, running is a time for meditation and reflection. The cemetery provides the perfect, peaceful and safe setting for getting a run in and encouraging positive thoughts to flow. ”
2. Go ahead: Play! If the snow is putting a crimp in your usual outside regimen, loosen up the rules a bit. Some of Fay’s favorites, which often make their way to early-morning Boot Camp sessions? Snow angels.
“Choose a snowy area away from icy pavement and make snow angels and snowball rolling part of your plan,” Fay suggested. “Run through the soft snow and see how that added resistance adds value to your training. We burn more calories exercising outside in the winter. Take advantage of this―embrace the season and boost your calorie burn and your spirits at the same time!”
Samantha Jones of Melrose’s Fitness Together, where clients get one-on-one personal training in private suites, agrees.
“Crawling around and lifting heavy snowballs is great for getting you sweating, as is building an igloo or snowman with your family,” Jones says. “Running in your yard with the dog can get you knee-deep in heavy snow, torching some major calories and getting the family pet healthy, too.”
Jones also mentioned another fun whole-family activity that might not get enough feel-good press: sledding.
“Climbing up the hill is not only worth the calorie roast, it earns you a fun trip down the hill,” Jones pointed out.
3. Reevaluate your shoveling form. Yes, you hate it. But shoveling somehow doesn’t seem quite as bad when you consider its health benefits.
“Shoveling can burn up to 400 calories a half hour for a person weighing 200 pounds, or 400 calories in an hour for a person weighing 150 pounds,” Jones says.
The most important thing to remember when heaving yet another foot of snow off the driveway? Make sure you are using the correct technique. According to Jenine Wright of Fit Lifestyle Studios, which offers everything from personal training to pilates, the last thing you want to do is ruin your exercise regimen with a weeks-long injury.
“Make sure you contract your abdominal and back muscles,” Wright recommended. “Warm up a little prior to starting. Drink plenty of water. Remember, [even though] it’s cold out, you still need to stay hydrated.”
For our other Fitness Together Studios across Eastern New England go to FTGetsResults.com