Raise your hand if, after strapping on an activity tracker, you’ve become a little obsessed with hitting your step goal …
Obsession aside, time and again, studies show that increasing the number of steps you take every day is a great way to improve insulin sensitivity, body composition and even mood.
The thing is, in the winter, taking long walks or just parking at the far side of the lot becomes infinitely less appealing. Nip the cold weather slump in the bud and keep up your step habit with these with expert-backed tips — no matter how much you might want to hole up and hibernate.
1. WALK AT THE GYM OR TRACK
If you’re cold-averse and you just can’t deal with the outdoors, don’t rule walking out altogether. Say hello to your inner track athlete this winter by hitting up the local indoor track for laps, suggests Dariel Cepeda, certified strength and conditioning specialist and head coach at Solace New York. If the local high school or rec center is too far, then use the treadmill for hill intervals, which work your glutes while racking up those steps, says Laura Miranda, a doctor of physical therapy, certified strength and conditioning coach and founder of PURSUIT group fitness training in New York City.
2. GET MORE STEPS AT HOME
For some indoor walking that’s completely free, walk at home. Every time you walk past your stairs walk up and down them twice, or turn on the TV and walk in place, Miranda suggests. If you’re walking in place, up the intensity by doing 30 seconds of high knees or butt kicks during commercial breaks.
3. MULTITASK AT WORK
Pair movement with everyday office activities. For example, try pacing during phone calls or holding walking meetings around the office, Miranda says. One study by Stanford University researchers even found that walking boosts creativity by an average of 60%. So not only could walking meetings help you reach your step count, they could help you score that promotion.
4. HAVE ACTIVE DATES
Besides getting you moving, active dates can honestly be way more fun, Cepeda says. Solid indoor options include dancing, bowling or even rock climbing. If you’re up for winter adventure, go ice skating or have a snowball fight.
5. WALK WHILE YOU SHOP
Holiday shopping is the perfect excuse to find a shopping center or mall to power walk, Miranda says. As you check off the items on your gift list, you’ll watch the steps on your pedometer increase. Plus, all those shopping bags turn your stroll into a farmer’s carry. Getting in your arm day, steps and shopping simultaneously is the ultimate in holiday multitasking.
6. JOIN AN INDOOR REC LEAGUE
If the StairMaster doesn’t exactly get you pumped to work out this winter, join an indoor rec league. Most cities have various indoor rec leagues, says registered dietitian Alissa Rumsey, creator of the e-guide the 5 Minute Mindful Eating Exercise. So see if your town has winter bowling, dodgeball, volleyball, indoor soccer, or even ping-pong teams you could join. Some might even be free!
7. TAKE UP A WINTER SPORT
Just because you can’t golf or play outdoor volleyball, it doesn’t mean you can’t get sporty this season. Use the weather to your advantage and try out a new winter sport such as snowshoeing, skating, skiing or snowboarding, suggests Cepeda. They’ll all help you get your “steps” in. OK, your activity tracker won’t perfectly translate skating and boarding into steps, but your body will still be grateful.
8. BUNDLE UP
The right winter wear can make getting your extra steps — whether you’re at the office or running errands on the sidewalk — infinitely more comfortable, Miranda says. Opt for well-cushioned shoes with plenty of traction (no slipping on the ice!), skip the skirts, wear warmer pants and load up with layers.