Staying fit in winter requires a plan

Article Published: Jan. 5, 2012 | Modified: Jan. 5, 2012

For many of us, it’s easy to be active on warm, sunny days. The great outdoors call us to hike, bike, walk, run, or work in the garden. But when snow or rain is falling, wind’s blowing and temperatures are miserably cold, the call to come outside becomes muted.

Staying active throughout the winter in the High Country requires mental discipline. Focus on the benefits and importance of keeping fit throughout the cold weather season, such as weighing less, being in a better mood, having a higher energy level, or sleeping soundly.

Even when there is snow and ice on county roads, our public works department clears miles of sidewalks in town. Walkers and joggers are still able to get around.

To avoid falls, every year-round High Country resident should utilize a pair of walker traction cleats for snow and ice, such as Yaktrax.

Dress in layers. Start with a thin layer of silk or synthetic material, such as polypropylene, which draws sweat away from your body. Next, add fleece for insulation. Top this with a waterproof outer layer.

To warm the air you breathe, wear a face mask or a scarf over your mouth.

If you prefer to exercise in a more comfortable environment, there are seven public gyms around Boone. Most all have cardiovascular equipment, such as treadmills, stationary bikes and elliptical machines, along with free weights or resistance training machines.

Both the Broyhill Wellness Center and Watauga County Parks and Recreation offer indoor swimming pools and aqua fitness classes. Swimming is a great way to stay in shape throughout the winter and excellent for those who have knee, feet or joint issues.

If you are inspired by group exercise, aerobics, palates, spin and yoga classes are offered at several gyms. Neighborhood Yoga is a beautiful studio that offers many gentle classes.

Convenient, at-home options include purchasing home cardiovascular and resistance training equipment and exercise DVDs. Home treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes vary widely in quality and price. If you have a bicycle and not much space, a trainer/roller may be a good option.

Exercise DVDs also take up little space. Any class that you may take a gym is available on DVD. I have a small collection and have found them to be a great option for extreme weather days, when almost everything is closed.

Although it takes some planning and creativity, stepping up to the challenges of winter exercise is well worth it.

Eating more main course salads throughout winter will also help you maintain a healthy weight. The homemade dressing for this recipe makes it tangy and refreshing.

Fajita Salad with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

To make sauce, whisk together these ingredients:

½ cup low fat sour cream
½ cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup skim milk
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, chopped

Salad ingredients:

1 pound skinned and boned chicken breast or thighs, cut into thin slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin, paprika and chili powder
¼ teaspoon salt and pepper
6 cups salad greens of choice
Other vegetable toppings as available
1 can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese

Combine olive oil and spices and toss with sliced chicken.
Place a skillet over medium heat and add chicken mixture.
Stir occasionally until cooked through, for 8 minutes or so.
Make salad, top with pinto beans, shredded cheese, chicken and creamy cilantro lime sauce. Serves 6.

Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D., is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with the N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. To contact Margie, email or call (828) 264-3061.

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