The Showcase Magazine - Articles

Fight the "shut-in" Mentality

By Ed Halper, M. Ed.

It's mid-winter. The Holidays are in the rear-view mirror, and summer seems a long way off. The sun is staying out a little longer, but the cold has not begun to dissipate. It's easy to stay on the couch, remote in hand, snacking on comfort food...

To get in shape for summer, and (more importantly) for long-term health, you've got to fight the "shut-in" mentality of January and February.

The body needs some Vitamin D sunlight provides. Try a brisk walk at lunch-time, when temperatures are warmest. Even though I'm wrapped in about 10 lbs. of clothing, I try to run outside about twice a week in winter. There's something about fighting against a biting wind, or moving fast enough to stay warm in sub-freezing weather that gives you a sense of accomplishment when you're done. My treadmill workouts are more effective for race preparation, but the outside runs release the endorphins that make you feel good.

I'm not a skier, but would love to try cross-country skiing one day. I understand that it's easy to execute, and is a tremendous workout. In fact, you burn more calories cross-country skiing that any other exercise. You're using arms and legs, engaging the core, and really getting the heart rate up! Probably because it corresponds to long-distance running so much, cross-country skiing is my favorite thing to watch in the winter Olympics.

The gym, of course, is the perfect place to meet all your winter workout needs. I hit the weights a little harder over the winter, and mix in a lot of cross-training on the bike and elliptical. Once the weather breaks, I'm back outside running as much as I can, but the other machines prioritize different muscles and ease the strain on my 59-year old knees. For a total body, all-out workout, I constantly extol the virtues of the Concept 2 Rower.

The Concept 2 is a push-pull movement, using just about every muscle in your body. It's low-impact, and safe on your structure. You can row steadily for long distances (10-K is my longest workout), or blow out 500 or 1000-meter sprints. The machine is featured in the Cross-Fit Games, and if you go all-out on it, you'll understand why. It's pretty much the hardest cardio workout you can do!

A good winter workout is a dumbbell free-weight routine, standing on balance disks or a Bosu ball. You're incorporating balance in the routine, which is great prep for skiing or snowboarding, or just not slipping on the ice!

Winter can be an isolating time, and the comradeship of a neighborhood club like Mountain Fitness is great social interaction as well. Just pack your gear up in the car, and leave the remote laying on the couch!

Ed Halper has a Master's degree in Education (concentration in Physical Education) from Trenton State College (1991), and is a Certified Personal Trainer through SCW. He is recognized as an IDEA Master Trainer.