Settling in for the winter ... on your couch? Fitness exerts we asked not only get that, they can help you to get, or stay, fit during a long, cold winter. Everybody, whether a winter weather warrior or human hibernator, will benefit from these tips.  

Exercise time 
For instance, if you are planning to settle on your couch, in front of your TV, Mercy HealthPlex Anderson yoga instructor Amy Pond suggests you do sit-ups, push-ups, leg lifts or curls as you watch, or during commercials. “If you are stuck at a desk, get up every hour and walk around, stretch your body and your mind,” she adds. “Five minutes by yourself of quiet time will do wonders for your temperament. Even sitting at your desk, close your eyes and just sit with your breath and listen to it.” Mary Geibel, personal trainer and fellow instructor at the HealthPlex and World Peace Yoga in Clifton encourages enjoying the season both inside and out this winter.

“Be willing to bundle up and get outside for a hike or take a walk in a different neighborhood than where you live,” she says. “My husband and I love to walk through the woods or parks, and we also find plenty of hills in the different neighborhoods around town. Keeps it interesting, and helps to break up the ‘cabin fever/no sun’ thing.” On the flip side, Geibel recommends people stop fighting the natural cycle of hibernating. “There is nothing wrong with a winter nap, a good book, or some extra sleep,” she says.  

You’re as fit as your fork 
“The reality is physical fitness is 80 percent what you eat,” says Brendan Wiese, personal trainer at the Mercy Anderson HealthPlex. “It can be fun to learn about healthier alternatives to what we just think of as common food,” like swapping coconut, almond or cashew milk for dairy milk, or substituting plain Greek yogurt for sour cream, he said. Geibel suggests “Meatless Mondays” to dip a toe into plant-based eating, and all of the experts recommend to “hydrate, hydrate, hydrate,” as Pond says. “Water at all times. If you're trying to lose weight drink a glass before a meal. Water will take up space in the belly so you're full faster.”

Home gym 
Snowed in? “Create a workout space in your house or apartment that does not have to be big,” Wiese says. “A great workout can be created using just a mat and a door. You can find suspension training kits at Walmart for under $30.” From two handles anchored in a door, you can do pushups, rows, squats, arm curls, bridges and crunches. Similar to the TRX straps at the gym, but far less expensive and easy to use.  

Be a joiner
Wiese is starting an eight-week triathlon training group Jan. 13. “I have designed a swimming, cycling, running and strength program to get you ready to take on any indoor/outdoor triathlon.” The small group trains as a group twice per week and gets challenging workout assignments to complete individually. It will end with an indoor triathlon at Mercy HealthPlex on March 5. “The group is smaller than a typical class so everyone is much closer with a goal toward the end of winter,” he explains.  

Sauna-sweat it out
The warm sauna feels good when it is cold and miserable outside, and is a great way to detox and sweat without being on a treadmill or other cardio machine, Wiese says. Just follow it with a cool shower to close up pores and rinse away the sweat.  

Sunshine in a smoothie 
Maybe a tasty reminder of summer is in order. “I start every day with a fresh fruit/vegetable smoothie,” Wiese says. “Water as the base then I mix up what goes in, which can include frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, fresh banana, ginger root and spinach/kale, among others. The body absorbs more of the micronutrients since the food is partially broken down as a smoothie and it tastes great.” Pond advises practicing patience and goodness with oneself. “I tell my students, make a realistic goal, but forgive yourself and move on if you don't meet it. Start anew and do your best. Today is the beginning of the rest of your life.”