Monday 18 November 2013

Outdoor Winter Exercise and Why It's Perfect.

   It might seem crazy, but winter is the best time to do outdoor sports. I say this because how often in the summer do you feel like doing something that's going to make you more hot and sweaty? And if you're considering it as exercise as opposed to playing, then it implies that you have to work harder. And that's just not appealing when it's hot outside.
   And I know, I know, it's cold in the winter, but that's exactly what makes outdoor exercise in the winter perfect! You'll be cold outside, but at the same time, you'll know that you'll warm up quickly if you're running or playing a sport, and you have also got the option to try sports designed for the winter like ice skating or ice hockey. The cold weather might make you want to get all bundled up, but you'll end up stripping those layers off before you know it.

   There are numerous upsides to outdoor exercise in the winter.
  • There are less eyes on you. There will be fewer people outdoors just hanging around, and those that are outside have their own things to take care of. No one will want to stop and watch you or judge you. And anyone who happens to see you from their window will likely tip their hat in admiration.
  • You get out in the fresh air instead of being couped up inside. And like I said, there are less people watching you, so you can enjoy it more.
  • You are going to interact with people if you're playing a game. Be it with old friends, or new people. It's a great opportunity to try something new (I know that one is said a lot) but you could also meet some special people. Take that meaning however you want to.
  • You'll keep warm. It might seem mad to go outside in mid winter with only a thin jacket, but you'll quickly warm up even if you're only jogging, and that jacket will be more than enough. Also, that cold weather will encourage you to work harder to get warm quicker, and you're also more likely to exercise for a longer period of time because you won't be tired and hot before you even started. Quite the opposite!

   There are so many things you can do outside that you may not have thought of.

Hockey - field or ice.
   I played hockey in school once. It was awesome despite very nearly breaking my neck. I tripped over a hockey stick, flipped (yes it was that bad), landed on the space between my shoulder and my neck and skidded about four feet that way. It didn't hurt but I'm certain that I could have really injured myself. You don't always notice if you have whiplash, for example, but it is serious.
   You could gather your friends, buy some hockey sticks, hockey bags, hockey pucks and everything you need to start and just head out to a field and start playing. Odds are it'll be a bit mishmashed to start with but you may end up enjoying it and eventually forming a team. Teams have to be formed somehow, and this is generally how they start. A group of people enjoying the activity, gradually expanding and bringing in new members.
   Hockey Factory Shop is a great place to start if you're looking for such hockey equipment. I just bought a few things myself because I intend to give this a go. We'll see if it lasts! They have a nice selection of Hockey novelties by Gryphon Hockey that you can buy to show how awesomely active you are, too.

Ice Skating
   A lot of ice skating rinks get opened up during the winter, and it's best to take advantage of these places rather skating on a frozen pond or lake - you never know how safe they are, and ice freezes irregularly. Though they may be indoors, they're kept cold (it's ice, after all) and most people are busy concentrating on trying to keep themselves up so they won't be watching you. Sure it'll be hard at first, and that's where the real work comes in, but think of the feeling of success you'll get when you're finally able to stand up and move without holding on! Yay!

   Okay, so this is more for the confident people, but no one is stopping you from busting moves outside. Get your iPod and just go nuts. Who cares? As long as you're not being too sultry no one should care. Keep it family friendly and you can have loads of fun, and entertain others while you're at it. Maybe you'll boost other people's confidence too. Alternatively you could get the same effects if you just did it in your back garden or in a forest where no one can see you. You still get the cold, fresh air and you'll have to work hard to warm up, but no eyes will be on you.

   Yep, go hiking in the winter. Walking up hills is harder than you think, and just because a slope has steps cut into it doesn't many it any easier. I walked up the 274 steps in Cheddar Gorge, and I began thinking "no one could make it to High Hrothgar in one day". I could never manage 500 steps let alone 7,000.
   It will take a little longer to warm up with this one, but the rewards are the same, as you'll last longer, too. Plus you can't just decide to stop and that's that - you have to make it back to your car/house first. And you could always make it more exciting: throw on a waistcoat, curl your hair/throw on a wig, grab a hiking stick and pretend you're a Hobbit. Why the hell not? You're going on an adventure! You can really get into hiking by buying the best gear around from a store like Bass Pro (check out Raise for coupons) to ensure your hike is as comfortable as possible.

   Odds are, if there's a sports center nearby that does ice hockey and ice skating, they do curling, too. It doesn't seem as high-impact as some of the others on this list but neither is it as low-impact as the rest. And it's indoors once again, but you're still going to be cold while you try to warm up, and you'll have to meet new people. But don't assume that, just because it's your first day to the sport, that everyone else there is a pro. Odds are that someone else in your class started only two weeks before you did, and the rest of them had to start somewhere too.

Back Garden
   Yes, don't ever underestimate your own private back garden. It may not be big, but you could move your workout equipment out there, whether all you own are dumbells, or if you have a rowing or spinning machine. Move it outside in the cold and use it! You'll still have an effective workout, with the above benefits, and far more privacy. Don't overlook that fact. Plus you have a bathroom nearby, and an unlimited supply of water. You might be out in the cold but hydration and feeling cool are not the same thing. Studies suggest that the more water you drink the more weight you lose, too. You need to keep hydrated or your body will turn to the liver for water which it doesn't really have, and that's not good. Whether you're out hiking, running, or playing hockey, be sure to have plenty of water with you at all times. That's another bonus: outside, the water will stay cold.

   Sure there are things like football and running, but they're obvious so I didn't put them on this list. Instead, I tried to put together a few sports that are not immediately thought of. There are plenty of others, you just need to think or consult the internet. I'd recommend trying to keep away from indoor sports centres because they might keep their places warm with air conditioning, but the odds are that it's not good for your lungs. Outdoors might be cold, but the air is fresh despite the cars driving past, it keeps moving and isn't stale. It's far better for you - though nothing matches the air of the country side, even if it does smell like cowpat.

NaBloPoMo November 2013


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