I love running outside. But winter weather can sometimes make outdoor running nearly impossible. Like when a 20-mile-per-hour wind combines with a cold rain or when an ice storm had left most of the roads un-walkable, and most certainly, un-runable.
Still, I never call it quits. Instead, I take my exercise indoors.
Since bad weather usually strikes around this time of year, I’ve given some thought to four favorite indoor workouts. Some seem admittedly, well, goofy. Still, if it gets you heart rate up, it’s better than sitting on the couch. Here they are, in order of importance.
1. Water Running
One of the best forms of indoor cross-training, running in the pool simulates running on land, which keeps your leg muscles and cardiovascular system in shape. The water resistance also eliminates inefficient motions of your feet and legs, which will improve your future runs out of the pool.
Use an area of the pool that is at least 5 feet deep so you legs can move freely without hitting the bottom. To keep yourself afloat, a flotation belt or vest works best.
Then run in place. Make sure you kick each leg out in front of you as it comes forward, just as you do when running on land. Try speeding up and slowing down your stride like an interval workout. Sprint for 20 or 30 seconds, then slow down to rest and so on.
2. Cross-country Skiing or Elliptical
During the winter, some lucky runners use ski trails in the woods. The rest of us can benefit from indoor cross-country ski machines. Second only to aqua jogging (in my opinion), cross-country skiing, whether indoors or out, can keep you in shape and provide a cardiovascular workout.
Different Brands of indoor machines offer different features. Some machines allow you to adjust the incline and the resistance for more variations. Before buying one, do a test run at the store or ask for a 30-day trial period.
3. Mall or Gym Running
Large convention centers, schools, malls, and other buildings often contain the next-best think to an outdoor road. Long hallways, rooms with enough space to run in large circles, or even indoor tracks. Check with the public buildings near your work or home to see if they allow you to walk or run inside. Some malls also allow walking or running during the early morning hours. This gives you a chance to window shop as you run.
4. Moving to Music
Even if you don’t own a piece of exercise equipment and the roads are closed (so you can’t get to the pool, gym or mall), you can still get in a good workout. Put on an energizing CD, tape, or music video and simply move around the room.
Walk at first to get your muscles warmed up. Then run in place and jump a little. Dance around. Move here and there. Throw in some moves from aerobic class. Walk up and down stairs. Skip rope. Hurdle pillows. Mix in some weight training (with dumbbells), sit-ups and pushups. If you have a piece of exercise equipment, such as a treadmill, use it in 5-to-10 minute segments and alternate it with your other exercises. If you make it run, 20 or 30 minutes will pass quickly.