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How to Keep Fit During an Old Time New England Winter

Updated on January 28, 2011
Snow Sculptures Near Home
Snow Sculptures Near Home

Younger by the Minute

My sister, who lives in Santa Fe, is happy she is not stuck inside like her New England relatives. She has parents and several siblings who live inside the igloo that is the Northeast—snow and ice piled high outside our windows. “Stuck inside” brings special problems beyond any feelings one might have about the confinement, such as how to get enough fresh air and exercise.

Did you know that every time the toilet is flushed, a bunch of chloride and fluoride and other toxins get into the household air? We know we like fresh air, and there are probably many good reasons to get plenty of it. Outside air has more oxygen, moisture, ions...and is cleaner.

1) Winter is a great time for yoga postures. In the morning after a light breakfast, I open a couple of windows, enough to allow in a lot of air. Next I roll out my mat. I follow a routine and add a few extra postures. After all, for once the outdoors is not beckoning. (I hike in the nearby state park in any weather except ice and deep snow.)

2) After yoga, I do shoulder exercises to ensure a full range of motion. Hand stands or modified hand stands, chin ups (definitely modified), even crawling on hands and knees all help. Climbing trees is good for the shoulders, too, but I don’t have a tree handy.

3) If I’m having trouble with any part of my body, I consult Peter Egoscue’s book Pain Free to correct the problem.

4) I run in place to loosen the lymph system. Five minutes, I'm told, will do it. I’m not a health and exercise expert, just a 68 year-old woman imitating friends and determined to be “younger next year” as one good book puts it.

5) After five minutes for the lymph system, I walk briskly around the apartment. I walk a circuit around the coffee table and dining table (which serves as a desk because we eat in our sunny kitchen) and through the hallway into my office. There I walk fast around a card table and back out to the hall and into the kitchen to the door. I open both the door and the storm door and jog in place while breathing fresh air. Then around again. Fast. As if I were shopping at Sears in the Milford Mall and suddenly realized I had just twenty minutes left to make a purchase at Dick’s Sporting Goods at the opposite end of the mall. (I sometimes use the mall for winter walking—assuming the snow banks are not so high as to make getting out of my neighborhood hazardous.)

I feel good! Much better than if I had gone out onto sidewalks where ice lurks just below a camouflage of innocent looking snow. These days you have to change walking styles to ensure each foot is secure before the other comes up. That means body weight square on top of foot. Not much stride in that technique. Looks funny, too! Definitely funny when you don’t get it just right. Down you go! If you tire of the perils of the sidewalk and take to the street, you encounter snow that behaves like sand for the good reason that it is partly sand. Like walking on the beach, such walking is hard work and not aerobic.

I get more for my moves inside. No driving. No gym fees.

If my sister did live in New England, she would probably have discovered several ingenious exercises I’ve failed to mention here. And you will surely create your own. Anyone for putting on some old time rock and roll and dancing?

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