A few posts ago, I wrote about how I like to walk outside as much
as possible, even in the winter…even in the hot scorching Texas
You have to have a plan for each season. Otherwise you will find
yourself coming up with — and believing — all sorts of excuses
for not working out.
I just heard about the surprise snow and sleet storm that hit New
York and New England yesterday. After a record-setting hot summer,
you guys are now facing an early winter? Huh? Doesn’t make sense,
That makes me think about winter. You know, we don’t get much
winter here in Texas. But up until about two years ago, I lived
in Northern Virginia, where we did get our share of cold, snowy
You may not like to exercise outdoors in the winter, when the air
is cold. In the spring, pollen and allergies may slow you up. Same
thing in the fall for some people.
In the summer, we have to worry about smog and pollution. And those
of us with allergies to dust mites and other indoor allergens have
something going on all year round.
Of course, I’m generalizing here. Perhaps you live in an area where
you don’t have these seasonal considerations. If so, good for you!
For the rest of us, I think we sometimes have to ignore these perils
and get outside whenever we can.
For example, I used to love to walk and run on the trails near
my home in Virginia, which are absolutely beautiful. One of my
favorite times to run was when it has snowed. The woods look
gorgeous in the snow. And it’s so peaceful.
But it’s cold out. What to do?
Well, I make up my mind that I am going to do it, rather than
miss out on the fresh air and an activity I really enjoy.
So, if I am running when it’s cold, I warm up for longer than
usual. And I walk to begin with, to make sure I am breathing
only through my nose. I gradually get my body ready to run.
When I run, I may take a slower pace to begin with, so I can see
how my breathing is doing. I speed up or slow down during the
run depending on how I am feeling. I also take time to look
around me and enjoy the scenery.
One of the most important things I do is to get into a rhythm
or cadence with my breathing. For example, I inhale for 4 steps,
hold for 2, exhale for 6 steps, hold for 2.
As I start running faster, the cadence may quicken as well.
I inhale for 4, exhale for 4, with no holding. As long as your
exhale is as long as (or longer than) your inhale, you are
I mention all this because I know how daunting exercising
can seem if you have some type of health problem or have not
been active in awhile.
One of the best ways to get started with physical activity is
to tell yourself that you are going to “test” yourself.
Tell yourself you are going to begin a workout, perhaps a walk,
and see how you feel. As you warm up and get into a rhythm,
you may find that you are feeling better than expected. In fact,
you may lose yourself in your walk or run and, before you know
it, 20 minutes has gone by.
On the other hand, if you are not feeling so great, you can
slow your pace and keep it short. Even if you only walk for
10 minutes, you’ve done something that’s good for you.
You can apply this approach to any type of workout or activity.
I’ve used this “trick” on myself quite a bit.
For example, my martial arts training has usually been in
the evenings. But sometimes, after a long, hectic day at work,
I just don’t feel like training. I know I should go, but I don’t
feel like I have the energy to put in a really good
At times like these, I tell myself that I will go, get warmed
up and see how I feel. If I still don’t have the “juice” I need
to get a good workout, I’ll either do an easy one or cut it
The result: I’ve had some of my best workouts on days when
I didn’t think I had the energy. In fact, I’ve never regretted
showing up and getting in a workout, no matter how listless or
unmotivated I’ve felt beforehand.
If you’ve been putting off exercise, or only exercising
sporadically, now is the time to get more consistent. You don’t
have to set a personal record every time you work out. Just get
started and see how you feel. Your body will guide you
to the intensity that’s best for you on any given day.
And remember to breeeaaathe……
You Can Do It!
Copyright Karen Van Ness 2010