December 21, 2011 and not a snowflake in sight.
Yesterday I started a discussion on the best form of winter exercise. I compared Skiing (downhill and cross country), Snow Shoeing, Ice Skating and Sledding. Today I want to take this discussion in a different direction, because practically speaking, if you live in a climate like I do in mid-Michigan, you cannot always count on the availability of snow to be part of your workout.
An important consideration in doing a winter sport is how much snow you have and/or how much access you have to a sports venue? If you live on a ski resort in the Colorado Rockies, then by all means, strap a pair of downhill skis on your feet and go. If you live in the woods in Canada, then you could cross-country ski or snow shoe all year round. If you live in New York City you have your choice of Central Park or Rockefeller Center for some of the best ice skating in the country.
If you live in mid Michigan, the choices are more difficult. We do not get enough snow on a day-to-day basis to count on cross-country skiing or snow shoeing as a form of regular exercise. There is an ice skating rink or two, but these are difficult to access for a daily exercise program. There is also no downhill ski resort nearby (though I am old enough to remember when there was one. Look for a story about the ‘Lansing Ski Hill’ later this year – or maybe early next).
The best outdoor winter exercise in places like mid Michigan, where we are dependent on the weather for good snow conditions, is running. You can run almost all winter long, except for the brief interruptions when we actually do have a huge snowfall and it takes the removal crews several days to clear streets and sidewalks so we can run again. And, even though running is a great way to stay in shape in the winter, I strongly encourage enjoying every winter sport you can just for the fun of it. You will also benefit from a cross training effect, challenging new muscles in ways that differ from simply running. A final perk is that changing up exercise programs helps keep running more fun for the rest of the year.
I did not mention joining a gym as this discussion focused on outdoor sports. That said, joining a gym for 3 or 4 months while you wait for the temperatures to warm up is another fun way to keep outdoor running more enjoyable. I am a big fan of using exercise to keep my body in better shape. I am also a big fan of having fun. If you get a chance to ski, skate, snow-shoe, or even just to go sledding, ‘Go!’ Have fun. Then go home and have a nice warm cocoa.