Welcoming winter and workout

Posted by Kristin Beale in Life After Paralysis on November 17, 2020 # Exercise, Lifestyle

In my opinion, winter is terrible. I like the seasonal change, and I appreciate a break from a season of perpetual sweat, but I just don’t like the cold. In an attempt to offset that discontent, I try to focus on the positive parts of the season ahead. Winter, like it or not, means that the air is cleaner, its sweatshirt and fireplace weather, and; the slice-and-bake sugar cookies with the Christmas trees on them are back on the shelves and ready to eat – devour.Kristen

But we all knew this was coming. I have a much longer list of downsides to the cold weather. At the top is my list is the forced inactivity that comes with not wanting to go outside and get snowed on or the cold making me lose circulation in my fingertips. It’s a lot harder to find fun ways to be active during the winter months. Winter means it’s too cold to go on a ride on my handcycle, too cold to take my dog to the park, and there’s no chance I’ll convince my fiancé to put on a heavy coat and walk the neighborhood with me. Hence, my forced inactivity.

So, I lounge. I spend longer in the mornings under my warm bed comforter. I sit at my computer all day at work, then I sit by the fireplace and eat an entire package of the aforementioned sugar cookies. If you think I’m kidding about that, I’ll tell you that I ate thirteen cookies after dinner last week. Literally thirteen!

Cookies and fireplaces are great coping tools to get me through the 3 (feels like 8) months of winter, but what about the consequence? The consequence is that my body plumps, my athletic gains fade, and my mind turns into mashed potatoes. Allowing those things to happen would feel like a complete surrender and be assured, I don’t have it in me.

So, what do I do to stay active in the cold months? It’s not easy, but I have a few ideas – not totally different from my workout suggestions when we wanted to be inside and away from the heat of summer. It’s funny how the tables turn.

  1. Practice your transfers or clean your house. These suggestions were valid in the heat of summer because you can stay inside to get your heart rate up, and now they’re valid to avoid the cold of winter. Elevated Heart Rate is the name of the game.
  2. Try an indoor sport. My personal favorite is fencing, but consider trying basketball, swimming, bowling, curling, or the indoor version of an outdoor sport (soccer, tennis, etc.).
  3. 3.Buy an exercise mat, search YouTube for at-home Pilates or yoga classes, and stretch out. Both Pilates and yoga will make your body more limber and strengthen your core – from the warmth of your living room. The internet is a beautiful thing.
  4. If you’re more of a free weight and resistance band type of person, all power to ‘ya. The resistance band and I have very much of a love/hate relationship, so I understand the apprehension. It’s not as bad as you remember. Search YouTube for instruction that is as quick as 10 minutes or as long as 60. There’s something for everyone.
  5. For my able-bodied friends, try the stairs, jumping jacks, burpees, jumping rope, high knees, and all the other things that are more fun to say than to do—speaking of not fun, how about holding a plank position for 1-3 minutes?
  6. My least favorite option is going to the gym, but it’s also the most obvious one. I’ve always gotten bored or distracted at the gym, so I look for ways to be active and avoid it altogether. If the gym is your thing, though, go for it.

Two years ago, I spent the winter sitting. When it finally ended, and the sun came out, I remember my lament over how out-of-shape and out of it, my body felt when I tried to resume outdoor activity. I called that season a “Lesson Learned” and vowed to be better and more active in future winters.

So, as always, when I write this kind of article, I’m talking to both you and me with these winter workout/activity ideas.

In my continued act of avoiding the gym with all my effort, I’ll focus on fencing and resistance bands in my living room this winter. There are few worse feelings than going into Spring with a body that’s weaker/softer/rounder/slower than where you left it in the Fall. If you can’t relate to that firsthand, you’ve just got to trust me.

Kristin Beale is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic book, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt at https://kristinbeale.com/. Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.