How to Have a Winning Winter Workout

Rebecca Scritchfield

Working out in cold weather may seem less strenuous than exercising on summer days. But winter poses its own challenges.

Although you may not feel as sweaty and heated during your outdoor workout, you are still losing a lot of water and must stay hydrated. If you're going to run outside for at least an hour, you should bring water, and possibly food, with you. Plus, drink two glasses (16 ounces) of water before starting your run. You can use your urine as a good indicator for your hydration--it should be pale yellow throughout the entire day.

Also, your body's heat regulation has to work extra hard to keep your body temperature constant. Dressing in layers keeps you warm before your body gets heated; once you warm up, simply remove a layer.

You'll also want to make sure to fuel up and recover with carbohydrates. Consider a fruit-based bread, like the pumpkin bread recipe I posted several weeks ago. Or, fuel up on oatmeal with fruit and, after your workout, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or grilled cheese with tomato soup.

One of my favorite fitness recipes for this time of year is a hearty chili, full of starchy, seasonal vegetables that provide great fuel for your muscles. The recipe below has starchy beans, parsnips, hominy, and peppers. It's a vegetarian dish, but you can add lean protein like ground turkey or pre-cooked shrimp. Serve with rice, red onions, cilantro, sour cream, and chips.

Winter Chili

Prep Time: 20 min.

Cook Time: 25 min.

Serves: 12

-- 1/4 cup vegetable oil

-- 1 onion, chopped

-- 2 medium garlic cloves, very finely chopped

-- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

-- 1/2 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

-- 1/2 pound carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

-- 1 tablespoon chili powder

-- 1 tablespoon ground cumin

-- One 14-ounce can peeled Italian tomatoes

-- 1 canned chipotle in adobo, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce

-- 1 1/2 cups water

-- 1 cup canned hominy, drained

-- 1 cup canned red kidney beans, drained

-- Salt to taste

1. Heat the oil in a medium-sized, heavy-duty, enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven.

2. Add the onion and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring until slightly softened, about three minutes.

3. Add the bell pepper, parsnips, and carrots, and cook. Stir occasionally, until lightly browned in spots, about five minutes.

4. Stir in the chili powder and cumin, and season with salt. Cook for one minute.

5. In a blender, puree the tomatoes and their juices with the chipotle, adobo sauce, and water until very smooth.

6. Add the tomato mixture along with the hominy and beans. Bring to a boil.

7. Cover partially, and simmer the chili over moderate heat until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

8. Season with salt.

Hungry for more? Write to with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, ACSM Health Fitness Specialist, helps empower people to build healthy lifestyles. A graduate of the Johns Hopkins University, Scritchfield is a Washington, D.C.-based registered dietitian and fitness expert who encourages clients to find exercise that feels great, learn to manage stress, and establish lifelong eating skills that balance individual nutrition needs with hunger and pleasure. Visit her blog at: