Home Exercises to Stay in Shape for the Winter

By Sergio Florian, Doctor of Physical Therapy

Living in Hawaii, we are fortunate enough to be blessed with good weather year round. Unfortunately, our temperate climate provides very little opportunity to train for the classic winter sports such as snowboarding or skiing. If your favorite winter sport is surfing, then you are right at home; but if you plan to spend some time on the slopes this winter, travel will be a necessity. Either way, most of us are too busy to surf and too far from the snow to ride every day.  Here are some exercises you can do at home to prepare in order to perform at your best—and more importantly, to avoid injuries when you do finally get a chance to play.

Cardio Base:

Building your cardiovascular endurance will not only make your next surf/snow trip more enjoyable, but it will also help protect you from injuries. Check with your doctor before undertaking any strenuous workout to make sure you are healthy enough. The best way to start is with walking or light jogging. Start easy and increase your workout time or distance by 10% each week. This will help avoid injury. For example: Start with walking or running 20 minutes/day, 4-5 days a week. After the first week, you can increase to about 22 to 25 minutes, and so on. If you are new to running, take as many walking breaks as you need. The important thing is to just keep moving.

Strength Training:

This will help maintain joint strength and keep you from getting hurt. Knee injuries are very common in winter sports, so it is important to strengthen the stabilizer muscles in your core, hips, knees and ankles. Here are a few simple exercises you can do while watching TV:

  • Squats: You can go as deep as you’re comfortable. Sit in a chair; place your arms across your chest. Scoot towards the edge of the seat. Go slowly from a sitting position to a standing position, keeping your back straight. Slowly come back down until your bottom almost touches the chair, then come back up.
  • Quadruped: On your hands and knees, raise your arm and opposite leg over your head, keeping your core tight and not moving at all.
  • Midsection: Lying flat on the floor with knees bent and feet on the floor, lift your head up off the floor towards the ceiling and then lift your shoulders off the floor. Come back down one vertebra at a time, slowly unwinding, and repeat.
  • Push-ups: Every one knows how to do these. You can modify by doing them on your knees if normal push-ups are too difficult

Balance Training:

Balance is key, and a deficiency in this department is the leading cause of injuries when doing winter sports.
Stand with your feet together so they are touching. Balance in this position.  Challenge yourself by closing your eyes.  If this is too easy try:

  • Having a family member toss a ball back and forth to you from different directions.
  • Standing on one leg and catch and toss a ball as you balance. Do about 25 repetitions, then switch legs. You can make it more challenging by standing on a soft pillow or cushion.
  • Standing in a tandem stance. Place your left foot in front of right and hold your balance. If this is too easy, have someone throw a ball to you while you balance.
  • Indo Board/Balance Boards: This type of equipment is very sport specific. In other words, it is the closest you can get to snowboarding or surfing without actually doing the activity.

The main thing to remember is to know your limits. Prepare yourself before your next trip and you will perform at your best, injury free, while having the time of your life.