People ask me what I do to keep fit when peak paddling season is over, and if you’ve been reading my blog you probably already know that I don’t stop SUP-ing just because it’s cold outside! Even after the Fall stand up paddleboarding tours taper off, we go out on the occasional down-winder. But it does get more difficult to get out on the water as frequently as I’d like.
I’ve always been an advocate for getting outdoors for exercise – running, biking, hiking – these are all activities that I love and do regularly. But our winter weather here in the Northeast can make that difficult, too, if roads are slick and trails are icy. In previous years, I’ve enjoyed TRX training and various yoga and Pilates classes at our local Hamptons gyms, but more and more I find that I prefer to work my exercise into my everyday life – and I believe that integrating fitness into the daily routine is far more beneficial for one’s health in the long run than going through the motions of a dedicated workout session a few times a week.
Walking or biking to the store instead of driving; taking the stairs instead of elevators – these simple changes have cumulative effects including increasing your stamina and improving your metabolism. You don’t need to do all your exercise in one session, either. According to the American Heart Association, you can get heart-healthy benefits if you divide your time into two or three 10- to 15-minute segments a day.
Look for opportunities to volunteer doing physical work. I recently assisted Rita of Rita’s Stable (where Emma indulges in her own passion for horseback riding) in cleaning out the stalls. It involved three hours of poop shoveling, wheelbarrow pushing (to dump the poop), and mopping. By the time I was done I was exhausted, and felt muscles I hadn’t used in a while – but what a great feeling! Cleaning out stables may be a little strenuous, but there are many other volunteering opportunities that require some physical activity: neighborhood or beach clean-ups, roadway landscaping projects, etc. If your community has a food co-op or CSA program, likely they are looking for volunteers to help stock shelves, deliver to the home-bound, etc.
Whatever you do – try to get outdoor for at least an hour a door, even in the coldest weather. Just dress warmly, walk briskly, and enjoy the fresh air and sunlight. Breathe deeply when you walk, feel good about taking steps towards improving your health, and enjoy your “workout!”