Trudging through the winter months, we bundle our bodies away under layers and layers of wooly sweaters, scarves, leggings, and boots. It's easy to forget there's a body under there, and to just put off your fitness routine until after the holiday shopping... until after the big parties... until after all those epic feasts.

It's all very fun, and 'tis the season to make resolutions around the New Year, but why wait? Suddenly it's late January, and you've got lazy legs, listless arms, and diminishing resolve to get back into shape. Rather than hibernating, keep in mind some winter workout wisdom: Stay warmed up, stretched out, and strong so you're in prime shape when it's time to emerge from your den in the spring.

Want to take it inside?

Don't let your motivation fall with the temperature! Do like the birds and take your outdoor workout choices to a warmer climate. Laps at the pool? Head for an indoor pool. Your usual walk in the neighbourhood? Shift it to the mall. Gyms can get a bit more crowded in the winter months because of the weather, so if you want to avoid the sweaty masses, try out a yoga studio or see if there's a community centre or school that opens its indoor facilities to the public. You can also sign up for indoor activities and team sports through your local community centre.

This winter, you may also want to reexamine your attitude toward video games. They usually get a bad rap for encouraging sloth and inactivity. But fitness-conscious gaming consoles like the Wii Fit, for example, pull lazy gamers off of the couch and challenge them to a variety of active movement games. It's all fun and games, but these types of video games engage users in the fitness fundamentals - balance, strength training, flexibility, aerobics, and personal goal setting.

One possible reason that video games have become popular as an at-home fitness option is because they don't take up as much space as traditional fitness equipment. A treadmill or elliptical trainer doesn't fit in everyone's home! But what about an exercise mat? Anyone could unroll a yoga mat onto the rug and enjoy the benefits of a simple daily stretch. Without even leaving your warm, cozy house, you can improve your posture, relieve stress and enhance your circulation ("Yay!" say your cold toes.) - and gain strength and endurance. "How?" ask your cold toes. Recent research has revealed that stretching improves more than just your flexibility. By expanding and lengthening your muscles, stretching can help to improve performance in specific exercises, for example increasing the knee muscles' endurance, allowing you to exert more strength through their use.

Want to head out into the cold?

Brave the blustery, blizzardy, great outdoors - just make sure you dress the part! There's nothing between you and snow-bound fun except some waterproof snow clothes and a pair of insulated boots! Layer your clothes, including doubling up on your socks. Cozy up in workout wear that's made from waterproof fabrics, and don't forget to wear a warm cap, gloves, and something to cover your neck.

If you'd like to get involved in winter-specific sports, you may need special clothes or equipment, like in hockey, snowshoeing, ice skating, skiing, or snowboarding. Or you can just play and frolic like you did as a kid. Tromp around outside and build a snowman or a snow fort. Create snow angels or have a goodhearted snowball fight. If you're thinking of going sledding, make sure to brush up on your sledding safety skills. And as the December holidays roll around, go for a stroll around neighborhoods to see the homes and yards decorated with festive lights and displays.

No matter what your wintertime activity level, be extra cautious. Stretch first and warm up - your muscles and the rest of your body. And pace yourself. Your body may respond differently to exertion in cold weather. If you have not done any physical activity in a while, it's a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any winter workout.

Amy Toffelmire