Active Lifestyles: Fight the winter weight

Hayley Blackburn

It is cold. Usually, October through April means chilly, snowy weather that makes it difficult to stay active. Who really wants to run outside when the air bites into your lungs? I certainly don’t. Who really wants to hike when a winter storm could hit the summit? Search and rescue probably doesn’t want you up there either. Staying active in the winter can seem like a chore, but beating the winter weight is easier than you might think.

On top of the cold weather draining your motivation to workout, the warm, fatty smells of the holiday season beckon you to over indulge. Who loves mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving? Um, ME. Who wants to bake sugar cookies to just eat the cookie dough? Yeah, me again.


Keeping off the winter weight seems like a chore, but with a healthy balance and a bit of effort, you will ready to rock your summer look well before the semester ends.

Exercising in the Winter

Although running in the cold is not bad for you, the cold, dry air can cause irritation, leading to runner’s cough. To help prevent this, make sure to wear a scarf to help warm the air coming into your lungs.

Skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and snowboarding are great winter activities. If it snows more this winter, hit the slopes to burn 250 calories an hour. Remember, that is only if you are ON the slopes and not sipping hot chocolate in the lounge. Skiing and snowboarding use hundreds of muscles to balance and stabilize your body while you whisk down the mountain. It is no wonder I am always sore the next day!

I live in the gym year-round, but I am especially glad to have a temperature-controlled environment during January. Heading to the Rec Center or gym allows you to keep up your normal routine without ever thinking about the darkness outside.

Stay Warm While You Go

Protecting yourself from the winter conditions is the most important part of winter exercise. The cold weather leaves your feet, hands and ears more vulnerable because the blood is focused on your core. When I run, my midsection feels like it is sweating while my head remains chilly. Always keep your hats and gloves on to protect these vulnerable regions. Layer up so you can remove what is necessary without being left out in the cold.

Eating in the Winter

Our holidays exist in the winter, I believe, because it is so cold out. It is nice to have the warmth of friends, family and a pie to help ride out the snowy months. Unfortunately, many holiday favorites are not so friendly for your waistline. Just remember these three easy tips to survive the holiday.

  1. Seek balance

    When you know you will be eating cookies at Grandma’s tomorrow, eat fewer calories today. Don’t overindulge every single day.

  2. Be selective

    If you want to maintain your current weight, you can’t eat EVERYTHING. Choose what you love and miss the most during the year. No one says you have to eat the green bean casserole, which has A TON OF CALORIES FOR BEING A VEGETABLE DISH, by the way.

  3. Savor everything

    The holidays are full of treats. Treats are meant to be slowly enjoyed, so don’t swallow them whole and go back for thirds. Take time to enjoy what you are eating instead of focusing on the quantity.

Winter is coming, but your winter weight doesn’t have to. I challenge you to stay within three pounds of whatever you weight today by the end of January. Practice indulging without going overboard and try to stay active. Winter will be over soon.

Collegian writer Hayley Blackburn can be reached at or on Twitter @hayley_blckbrn. If you have a specific question or topic, let her know. Leave a comment!