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Cross-train like an Olympian this winter

Health and Wellness

Four ways to cross-train like an Olympian this winter

Staying motivated to exercise in the winter can be difficult, especially if you don't participate in the typical Olympic sports. (And, let's be honest, how many of us have an ice rink or luge track nearby?) If you're feeling inspired this week watching Team USA take care of business in South Korea, remember that winter is a great time to take a break from your normal exercise routine and head indoors to add some cross-training to your mix.

Here are some alternative ways to get fit when the sun sets before dinner time.

  1. Pool running. In addition to swimming laps, a great way to get some "miles" in and reduce the impact-related injuries, pool running is taking the same running technique you would use out on the road into the water. Since the resistance affects your whole body, it also builds up your core, back and shoulders. Be sure to learn the proper form, as most people tend to hunch over at first, which can lead to more problems than it solves. You still want to simulate good running form, including pumping your arms and maintaining a quick turnover rate to keep your heart rate up. Don't forget to warm up and cool down as if you were on a regular road or treadmill run.
  2. Elliptical machines. If you don't feel like getting wet, but still want to give your legs and cardiovascular system a workout while reducing impact, then try using an elliptical to build aerobic fitness and endurance. Just remember that using the elliptical works different muscles than running, so add it to your training regimen gradually. Don't feel obligated to use the handles, either. By alternating hands for balance and letting go for short periods of time, you can train yourself to "run" with moderate effort.
  3. Pilates and flexibility training. Another benefit of working out indoors is the ability to work on muscles you don't use in your regular routine. Pilates and flexibility training are somewhat different, but both offer improved strength, greater elasticity, enhanced recovery, better breathing awareness and injury prevention. Many athletes find that the focus on breathing techniques helps them during events.
  4. Indoor cycling or spinning. Taking a class with high-intensity intervals on a stationary bike will also ramp up your aerobic metabolism, translating to a faster pace when the snow melts. Like the elliptical, cycling reduces the amount of joint stress in the ankles, knees and hips compared to running.

Feeling motivated? Put a cross-training schedule in place that works with your daily routine, and get moving! (And remember, always check with your physician before starting any exercise routine.)