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Using Exercises to Keep Warm

Winter is coming.

Which for Toronto means we are usually in for 3-4 months of miserable cold weather. But it doesn't have to be miserable if you don't want it to be.

Winter should not be an excuse to not exercise either. After all, exercising keeps you warm.

We have all seen the crazy joggers out there in the harshest of weather, apparently unaffected by the extreme cold.

HOWEVER, jogging is not the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post is actually on the topic of KEEPING WARM for survival purposes - or at very least comfort levels. It has been my experience that the simple act of "rubbing your hands together" really only works for your hands, and if you want to stay warm and comfortable sometimes it is necessary to do more full body exercises.

For example one of the things that I sometimes do is I miscalculate how cold it is outside and I don't wear enough clothing. Thus I end up freezing my proverbial behind off, but I do have a trick to prevent it...

I do 100 jumping jacks. Takes about 2 minutes to do, but 100 jumping jacks later and I am cozy warm because my blood is now pumping energy from my fat stores and invigorating my body. Burning the fat off in such an aggressive manner warms the muscles, warms the blood, and ultimately warms the whole body.

Jumping jacks are not the only exercise you can use to keep warm however...

Five Ways to Keep Warm using Exercises

#1. Weightlifting

You don't need the ghetto weightlifting set like the guy below, any weights will do. Backpack, suitcase, whatever you have handy.


#2. Body Weight Exercises or Calisthenics

Pushups, chin-ups, wall push-ups, situps, it doesn't matter. Any old school body weight exercise will do. Even the simple act of climbing something, such as stairs, can keep your body warm. If you are athletic enough you could even do hand-stand push-ups.

The trick with some of these exercises, eg. chin-ups, is that you need something stable that isn't going to break under your body weight. Pick something big and stable.

The young woman on the right for example chose the underside of a bridge to exercise on, but the basic concept is there. Something large, heavy, durable, won't tip over / rock back and forth. It also shouldn't have sharp edges, spikes or anything dangerous like that in the vicinity.

The video below shows a young woman demonstrating a number of different body weight exercises outdoors.



#3. Yoga

You don't even need a mat to do winter yoga, the snow is your nice soft mat. But in the event you are surrounding by cold harsh ice, a blanket would also do. Helps if you are already familiar with yoga, but if you are not please read my posts on the topic or check out the thousands of free videos on YouTube.


#4. Squats or Squat Jumps

Squats are not hard. You just squat down part way, keep your back aligned straight up and down, and then stand back up again. Do 20 of those and your legs will be warmed up significantly.

For extra challenge, do the squats while carrying a weight (perhaps a backpack full of books), or try squat jumps - wherein you squat down and then stand up so fast that you jump into the air.

#5. Stretching and Scratching

Sometimes the simple act of stretching, touching your toes, flexing various muscles, can also warm you up. It doesn't take much, and it is far less obvious what you are doing if you have a crowd of people staring at you. If you are standing on a cold train platform with lots of people around, they may get weirded out by someone who suddenly decides to do 100 jumping jacks - but someone who is just stretching won't get a second glance.

The second part is this last tip is that you can also warm your skin by scratching it. Scratch your back, your arms, your chest, your legs - it might look you have a rash to a passerby, or it might look like you just have an itchy arm and that is no big deal.

If it truly is a survival situation then embarrassment isn't a factor any more.

Have a great winter and stay warm!

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