Wellness

7 reasons to feel better about taking your workouts indoors for fall and winter

The upsides to treadmill runs and fitness classes you hadn't considered!

The upsides to treadmill runs and fitness classes you hadn't considered!

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Having to leave our cozy homes to work out come winter, especially if you prefer to get most of your physical activity in the outdoors (we're looking at you runners and cyclists), can be enough to throw our routines completely off course.

But we're here to remind you that bringing your workouts inside comes with benefits that can help you take your health and fitness goals to the next level. We spoke to some of North America's top fitness professionals to get their advice on how to keep moving indoors, stay motivated and actually enjoy it!

The treadmill's forgiving on your body and its feedback doesn't lie

Some running purists call it the dreadmill because they can't stand the monotony of running with the same view, but it does have added perks that you can't get from outdoor runs. "There are many benefits to running on a treadmill, including lower impact on the joints compared to running on concrete or asphalt," says Ben De Villena, chiropractor and fitness coach. Research suggests setting the treadmill to a 1 per cent incline to help simulate outdoor running. "The consistent feedback, such as distance, pace and calories burned, is also a nice bonus," De Villena adds.

You may want to consider a curved treadmill, powered entirely by you. "When you're running on a treadmill the ground is moving and that really doesn't mimic outdoor running," says Sylva Mischke, a WeckMethod qualified fitness coach and Equinox instructor. "If the treadmill is the only option, try and get on the curved treadmill. It will help you form a better more balanced stride," says Mischke. One study, found that using a non-motorized curved treadmill resulted in a higher heart rate and an increase of oxygen uptake versus running on a traditional treadmill.

Cardio hounds will love these types of classes

If you're missing your long runs and bike rides try a High-Intensity Interval Training (known as HIIT) class. "HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise alternated with low-intensity recovery periods. It is perhaps the most time-efficient way to exercise and [cardio lovers] will definitely work up a sweat and be challenged," says Nathania Harrison, a Yoga, Barre and Pilates instructor and founder of Well & Tight. You can also try a hybrid of HIIT and treadmills with classes such as Barry's Bootcamp or Orangetheory. "Orangetheory workouts can improve your endurance, strength and power,'' says De Villena, "The workouts appeal to people of all athletic levels." 

Indoor cycling is more exciting than its solitary, outdoor counterpart

Stationary bikes allow you to make your workouts more targeted, allowing you to practice things you wouldn't be able to do outdoors, like evening out your pedal strokes or climbing a hill climb for 10 minutes. "Spinning is amazing cardio that provides a serious calorie burn, there is no denying that," says Julie Harrish, owner of Six Cycle in Toronto. "But you get so much more than a workout during an indoor cycling class. Moving as a squad, together, to the beat. Everyone might show up with a different motivation, but in that room, everyone feels connected and dialed in." 

"It's inspiring and motivating to be surrounded by like minded people," echoes Ashley Noelle, founder of Feelosphy, a restorative yoga practice that incorporates massage. "The fitness aspect that keeps me wanting to do it is the connection piece, the people piece," says Noelle. "When you see other people in classes pushing past existing limits and into new strength, you'll feel inspired to do the same," says Harrison.

Swimming is not just a summer sport

Winter might seem like an odd time to start swimming, but an indoor pool is a great place to work on your aerobic activity, year-round. "It's an exercise with the lowest form of impact on the body, which minimizes injuries," says De Villena. He also says it helps you to focus on your breath control. "This is important for all fitness activities, and you'll quickly see improvement in your other workout routines if you add swimming to the mix."'

You no longer have to leave home to get a boutique-quality workout

Sure, people have been working out at home since Jane Fonda released her first video in 1982. But new tech and studio fitness trends have brought boutique fitness classes to your living room. Some of the most popular apps for the like are TRX, Sweat and Nike Training App, the latter is free with over 185 workouts available to download says Harrison. "The advantage of a digital workout platform is that our members can access workouts they love, anytime, day or night," says Cat Kom, founder of Studio SWEAT onDemand which gives subscribers access to workouts like TRX, HIIT, Barre,and more including live streaming classes with instructor and classmates.

A few home gym essentials can really pay off too

"I'd say that at the very minimum, you should have a workout mat for floor exercises, a couple of dumbbells and some resistance bands," says Kom. Other equipment essentials that will help you crush your workouts at home are a Bosu ball, kettlebells and a TRX, says Mischke. "The most underrated fitness equipment is the mini band," says De Villena. "Mini bands force the body to activate muscles that promote stability. We tend to neglect smaller muscles in traditional workouts, and mini bands can target these muscle groups," he says. 

Take the opportunity to focus on bodyweight workouts

Can't make it to that spin class or drive to the gym because the weather is just too dangerous? No problem. Mischke says you can get your endorphins flowing by crushing some cardio at home. "If you have stairs, run up and down them. If you live in a high-rise, even better." If you live in a bungalow she suggests good old fashioned calisthenics, such as high-knees and shuttle runs in the living room. "If you want to do step ups, do them on your couch and add jumping jacks." 

"The most underrated piece of equipment is your own body," says Mischke. "In fact, use your own body before using a piece of gym equipment." She says a bodyweight workout is a great way to build strength and increase flexibility and since it doesn't require equipment—you can do it in the comfort of your home. Harrison agrees, "using your own body weight is a great starting point. You don't need fancy equipment or expensive weights to get an incredible workout at home."


Julia McEwen is a Toronto-based writer, editor and stylist. Follow her at @juliapjmcewen.

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