Have you ever heard of a “crime of opportunity”? It’s a crime that is unplanned but happens when the perpetrator is in the “right place at the right time” to take advantage of a situation for their benefit. While it has a negative connotation, I often look for “activities of opportunity” in the winter.
For those of us who are not really into winter sports, December through April is a pretty rough time. There’s usually a fair amount of snow and going outside in the cold can be quite unpleasant, especially when temperatures hover in the single digits. After months working out inside, around February, the treadmill at the gym starts to look pretty boring. If you’re anything like me, soon my motivation wanes and the cookies add up.
However, opportunities to change things up while still getting in a great workout for free do exist! You just need to remain vigilant and open minded. For example, this morning I walked out on my driveway to 9” of new snow that had fallen overnight. On any other day, this amount of snow could provide me with a decent 15-minute cardio workout. However, I had the unfortunate luck of getting a new plow guy that piled up 5 feet of that snow onto a portion of my driveway…the portion I need to use in order to get out of my garage. Sigh.
I was feeling rather burned out of treadmill running anyway, so I picked up my shovel and got to work. An hour later the snow was relocated, and I had a great workout! My back, arms and chest muscles are sure to be sore tomorrow, but I gave my legs a day off and feel mentally refreshed.
Snow shoveling isn’t the only “activity of opportunity” in the winter though. The possibilities are endless if you’re willing to bundle up and get moving. We took our dogs out for a longer walk in the deep snow last night before the plows came through and our German shepherd loved it!! Walking through deep snow requires significantly more leg strength and endurance than walking on a treadmill or around a track. Use this to your advantage to improve your workout while taking in the fresh air and getting a little sunshine.
Digging out your car (or someone else’s) can snag you 5 minutes of cardio up to a couple times a day and may even give you the warm fuzzies in the process. Pulling your kids around in their sled or building a huge snowman can get your heart rate up quickly. Chopping or carrying firewood can be a chore…or a great opportunity to move around and work on your upper body strength. Finally, cleaning up after everyone tracks in the snow and wetness into the garage or entry way by mopping, vacuuming or sweeping can add another 5-10 minutes of unplanned activity.
The biggest thing is to keep your eyes open for these opportunities and take advantage of them when they arise. Keep your planned daily physical activities going, but don’t be afraid to sprinkle in some good old fashioned outdoor chores regularly.