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December 1, 2017 - TCO

BRRRRING IT ON: 7 ideas for cold-weather fun and fitness

Strange December thunderstorms can lead to January polar vortex conditions that freeze freeways, plumbing, and the tears streaming from your dry eyes. And 60-degree faux-spring teasers in February are certain to be wiped out by a blizzard mid-March. This is our Minnesota winter.

We Minnesotans need two essential tools to effectively deal with — and thrive in — this unpredictable season. First, a willingness to mentally roll with whatever Mother Nature tosses at us, and second, a plan to actively embrace any condition out there. Deep dives into arctic temps can trigger self-protection mode, keeping you cocooned inside while binging on carbs and shows. However, your body, mood, and overall well-being implore you to get up, get out, and get moving! Here are seven fun and easy ways that’ll boost your energy and help you stay active and fit when it’s cold out ’der:

Walk On

Most of us can handle this one. Too icy? Don rugged footwear and consider popping a pair of traction devices over your shoes to maintain stability and better traverse slippery routes. Negative windchill? Layers are key. Cover exposed skin and stay safe by dividing time into two or three shorter strolls. Put one foot in front of the other and see where they take you. Recovering from an illness or injury? Head to an indoor mall for the warmth and level terrain, or jump on a treadmill and vary your pace as needed.

Go with the Glide

Want to increase your energy expenditure? Click into a pair of cross-country skis and slide into a soothing rhythm that doubles as a killer workout. Check out the Three Rivers Park District for well-groomed trails in the western suburbs, from beginner to advanced, or scope out other options all across the state.

Head for the Hills

From suburban slopes to superior views, downhill ski and snowboard areas abound in our northern neck of the woods. What we lack in elevation, we make up for in convenience and variety. From newbies to experts to terrain-park daredevils, there’s something for everyone. Psst: Flying down a hill doesn’t have to involve being strapped into equipment. Pop over to a nearby park or golf course (or your own backyard if you’re lucky) and hop on a sled, toboggan or tube. The thrill of the ride down coupled with the hike back up will get your heart pumping in no time.

Skijor Heart Out

Are you as comfortable on two skis as you are on your own two feet? Up the ante, grab the pup, and try skijoring. Furry four-legged friends are fantastic motivators and excellent exercise partners.

Play Hard to Get

Bundle up and play a game of old-school tag — or even more appropriate, freeze tag — with the kids. Or gather some pals and find an open field for a game of touch football. Remember “fox-and-geese?” Make a big circle in the snow and then crisscross two paths through the center. One person is the chaser (the “fox”) and tries to catch the others (“the geese”). Stay on the path or you’re the new fox. (This one probably has all kinds of names and variations; get creative and add your own rules.)

Adapt and Overcome

Take a traditionally warm-weather sport and make it work for you in the elements. Snow golf involves little more than a few clubs, some tennis balls, and an open area (like a frozen lake). Indicate tee boxes and “holes” with spray paint, and get into the swing of it.

Get Pumped

And sometimes there’s just no way, no how, you’re going out there. Gyms and fitness centers have gone from nice-to-have to a must-have on many lists, but the same-old, same-old can lead to all kinds of fatigue. Mixing up your routine with new classes or programs, finding a buddy to keep you accountable, or joining a training group are great ways to get more from your membership. And Twin Cities Orthopedics offers fitness classes, too. Learn more about the various classes we offer and view the class schedule.