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Warm Up Your Winter Exercise Routine

As the leaves turn and gracefully float towards the ground, we start to reach for warmer clothing. Have you dug out your favorite sweater, started making more chai, or the cliché pumpkin spiced everything? Maybe you haven’t, but chances are you are aware that cooler temperatures are emerging. With this in mind, we have some ways here are some ideas to spice up your exercise routine into a way to keep you fit and warm!

Get Outside and Hike, Uphill

In the beautiful rolling hills of East Tennessee, we have a backdrop of scenery calling to be explored. From the Smoky Mountains to Big South Fork, there are thousands of miles to explore outdoors this fall and winter. Hiking has some of the best cardiovascular benefits, is very low impact, and is touted continually as one of the best ways to reap multiple physical benefits, according to Outside Magazine. Recently, studies were conducted by the PLOS One (a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal published by the Library of Science since 2006) that concurred with Outside Magazine’s claim that hiking truly is one of the best exercises for all ages and fitness levels. Besides upping your cardio game, hiking takes you outdoors, and the studies noted that this assists with decreased neural activity from the area of the brain where anxiety and depression tend to hang out. Another great thing about hiking? It is not an expensive habit to start! You can wear loose pants, layers, and even start in tennis shoes; although in East Tennessee, with the damp winters, we suggest looking for an inexpensive pair of waterproof hiking boots to start. Confused where to start with your hiking adventures? Look to the links above to find some hikes, each site has hikes listed according to ability level as well.

Winter Cycling Suggestions and Tricks

As you probably have already noticed, one of our founders is quite into cycling. She and most of Knoxville will be joining the crew that struggles to keep cycling outside throughout the winter. Winter provides a unique challenge to mountain bikers and road cyclists alike. The breezes that one catches while spinning down a hill or accelerating make the thoughts of cycling less attractive. However, winter cycling can and does continue, with a few modifications. When taking your cycling routine outside in the winter, it is recommended to stay off of mountain biking trails after rain, or as the temperatures warm up. This allows the trails to stay in optimum shape, especially when the local trail building agencies, like Appalachian Mountain Bike Club, work to ensure we can pedal all year round by maintaining these trails. If you are craving the dirt and the thrill of the ride, then follow these few suggestions to enjoy pedaling in the cooler temperatures: hydrate even if you don’t feel thirsty, dress in breathable layers (think merino wool and no cotton) and a base layer to wick moisture away from your skin, and eat snacks. It is true that the colder weather can make you feel less thirsty and hungry, but your body is actually burning more calories attempting to regulate its core temperature. We suggest adding electrolyte tablets to your water and packing an extra snack for chilly days.

HIIT Style Classes Increase Core Temperature

If the weather has you down, and you just cannot bring yourself to train outside, we get it. There are days when the thought of changing into workout clothes alone makes us shiver. In order to increase the likelihood that you will continue your workouts even when you would rather stay under the fuzzy blankets, we suggest taking a High-Intensity-Interval-Training (HIIT) style class in order to increase your body’s core temperature. When this happen, you warm up naturally! These classes are a form of interval training, which is a cardio/strength exercise methodology that alternates short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods, with the goal being exhaustion. HIIT classes have increased in popularity over the past decade and continue to spread in form and fashion with fusion-style HIIT classes emerging of late. One of the most interesting HIIT classes to appear is Buti Yoga. Buti (yes, it is pronounced like ‘booty’) was born out of founder, Bizzie Gold’s desire to take yoga to a new level. The class is a fusion of yoga, plyometrics, strengthening, and tribal dance. If you’re interested in burning calories, laughing, and warming up this winter, check out the Expand Yoga session taught at Health First Fitness on Wednesday at 6:30pm. The gym also offers HIIT-Fit with Lindsey Higdon, certified fitness coach, which is sure to get your core temperature up with quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods.

Yoga Poses Designed to Increase Heat in the Body

Lastly, if you are cold, feeling a little down, or suffering from Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) this winter, we highly recommend yoga. Yoga, when coupled with pranayama (breathing practices) has been scientifically proven to help with SAD, depression, anxiety, and other illnesses. Studies continue to emerge proving that the 2,000-year-old practice of yoga may improve physical, psychological, and overall well-being. With all these proven benefits, rolling out your mat may be the absolute best way to combat wintertime weather. After your mat is rolled out, though, what should you do? Restorative yoga may not provide you with the warmth you are seeking, instead, try a sequence such as this:

1. Warm up with 3-5 Sun Salutation As: Stand in mountain, inhale arms overhead. Exhale, forward fold. Inhale, halfway lift, exhale plant hands and move to plank pose. From plank, bend elbows to 90 degrees, coming to chaturanga. From chaturanga, flow sternum forward, and come to the tops of the feet (and possibly the thighs) for upward facing dog. Curl toes under, lift hips up and back, to downward facing dog. In downward facing dog, take 3-5 deep belly breaths, opting to pedal out feet, dropping hips, or shaking legs. From down dog, look forward between your hands and walk, step, hop, or float bringing your feet to your hands. Inhale, halfway lift. Exhale fold. Inhale arms all the way overhead, exhale mountain pose. Repeat 2-4 more times. Sun Salutations are a warmup in themselves. This sequence was intended as such from the beginning of vinyasa flow creation. If you desire a less intense warm up, consider starting in child’s pose, walking hands from right to left, lengthening through each side, and then onward to cat-cow poses. Follow along here.

2. From your series of Sun Salutations, take each of the following poses and hold them for 3-5 breaths.

  • Plank

  • Side Plank

  • Wild Thing

  • High Lunge

  • Crescent Twist

  • Boat Pose

  • Fire Toes

  • Fire Log

  • Bridge Pose

  • Spinal Twists

3. End in savasana, the final resting pose, for 1-5 minutes. You might want to grab a blanket, as your body temperature can cool down significantly, quickly, after an energizing yoga session, especially if you sweat was involved in your practice.

Mobile Wellness in Locations Across East Tennessee We understand your time is valuable and that a studio or gym membership may not fit into your finances or your busy lifestyle. That is why we come to you. With classes and programs created by our in-house curriculum and training experts, we pride ourselves on bringing movement, mindfulness, and breath to you even in the cooler months. Why not take time for yourself and check out our community classes or reach out to schedule a private class for you, your workplace, or school! We guarantee to bring the heat!



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