December 7, 2020

Slimdown Wellness Challenge | Exercise and Physical Activity

General Health

Well group…you made it halfway—and we’re on the downward slide from here on out! WOOHOO!

This week’s theme for the challenge is winter exercise. It can be downright depressing during the winter months in Wisconsin, and instinctively, we want to hunker down, get cozy, and turn on the Netflix as soon as we get home because it’s cold, dark, snowy and blah (ruh roh…I think I just busted the Pernat household…).

Unfortunately, our health doesn’t take a break just because the daylight hours are less, and the weather is well, frightful. If fact, we probably should be thinking MORE about exercise this time of year, considering the holiday food, treats, alcohol intake and pandemic stress. Exercising in the winter is tough on many fronts, but I’m hoping this blog will help give you a few ideas for what you can do to keep your health in the fore-front of your mind, and to maybe create a few new habits.

Indoor exercise

This might seem like a no-brainer if you’re shivering while reading this blog and thinking of the cold weather. Indoor exercise can mean a lot of things, and, much of it is about creativity. Try some of these ideas:

Virtual Workouts

2020 has been all about the virtual….virtual school, virtual meetings, virtual EVERYTHING. One of the best things (in my humble opinion) that has come from the pandemic is that workouts are being live-streamed at all hours of the day and for just about every class and modality you can imagine! As a virtual instructor, I appreciate that I’m able to provide an opportunity for participants to exercise while remaining safe at home…and in whatever attire desired!

There are tons of opportunities available for virtual workouts—many may be offered through gyms, Park and Rec departments and hospital systems, or you may have to do a little searching on Facebook or Instagram. Another opportunity is to check out various apps that stream virtually free or with small fee each month, such as Peloton, BeachBody, Daily Burn, or some of the other branded programs such as Zumba® or Jazzercise, just to name a few. If you’re looking for free, YouTube has TONS of opportunities also!

“Old” Equipment

You may have to do a little digging, but, dumbbells, bands, steps, (deflated) exercise balls and workout DVDs are all functional, and a great way to save some $$$ while using what you have. If you need refreshers on how to use your equipment, the internet is your best friend!

Maybe it’s time to take the clothes off the treadmill (or recumbent bike…GUILTY) and set a goal to dust it off and use it a few days a week. While they work as great clothes hangers, they would be awesome to use towards your health goals this winter.


This is a new one that I’ve just started to utilize, but, Pinterest has a TON of options for workouts at home, at the office, at the gym, etc. Some are shorter than others, but, you can get workout ideas that are different, ever-changing and something fun!


2020…creativity and being innovating. I actually taught a series of classes this previous summer that focused on household items—water bottles, soup cans, books and my personal favorite…toilet paper night!

Creativity can help keep you motivated, your body changing, and of course—the laugh factor. Do you have a set of stairs at home? Set a timer and see how many you can do in 1 minute, with a few repeats or incorporate those steps with a whole-home obstacle course (the fridge may only be used for back exercises with opening the door…not for snacky time!). If the couch has claimed you as it’s own, start with marching in place during commercials or setting a timer to move every 10 minutes, or grab those toilet paper rolls (or something heavier) and crank out an upper body workout.

Outdoor exercise

Winter in Wisconsin can be absolutely beautiful, but, you have to be smart if you’re going to be exercising outdoors. I personally enjoy getting outside, even for a few minutes in the winter, because the fresh air is crisp and refreshing, and there are still many opportunities outdoors:


The fresh air coupled with the beautiful fresh snow (not the yucky January-y brown and sloppy stuff ) is absolutely an awesome opportunity to enjoy the winter while getting some exercise. Remember to dress warm enough (in layers), in bright colors, and to have good shoes or additional support (think Yak Traks) for your shoes so you don’t slip and fall!


There are a few local organizations that rent out snowshoes and is a different and unique way to enjoy winter while burning calories! (*This is on my personal bucket list for this winter!)

Ice skating

Indoors or outdoors, still getting the same workout! Many local municipalities offer ice skating during the winter for free or a nominal charge and is a great option to get the kids involved too!


Although skiing is not for me (Sophomore year of high school, phy. Ed. field trip to Cascade, detoured off the hill and ended up crashing in the woods and had to be pulled out by a teacher—whoops!) BUT, this is the only time of year you can hit the slopes and feel the thrill of skiing (or…again, being pulled out of the woods in front of your peers.)


Kids LOVE the snow, and get such joy from building snowmen, forts, tunnels, and running and playing. Join your kids/nieces/grandkids and have some fun playing in the snow too!


This time of year is GREAT for getting a gym membership, but you also have to feel safe with your gym and their COVID-19 policies. The great thing with a gym is that you know it will always be climate controlled with no snow, and many have trainers and staff that can help you get started if you’re at a point that you just don’t know what’s right for you.

Swimming/Water sports

Alright, I’m getting a bit wild in this category, but hear me out. There’s LOTS of water opportunities in the area, and although the thought of having wet hair in the middle of winter might make you shudder, there’s something so nice about being able to play in the pool, get a great workout, and feel a little bit (in that moment) that you are somewhere tropical.

We’re so fortunate to have various pools in the area that offer:

  • Water fitness classes
  • Lap swim
  • Open swim

Check out one of these opportunities today and make sure you are familiar with their COVID-19 policies (masking, pre-registration/sign up, limited capacity, etc.) before you arrive.

Yes, winter can stink sometimes, but we can’t let that excuse get in our way. We must be sure we are taking our health into our own hands and making a plan that works for you. Finding the motivation to exercise can be a struggle, and a hard thing to address year-round, BUT, taking the time to try new things, new workouts, and even new ideas can inspire and get you out of the funk.

Try something different this winter—you never know, you just might be hooked.