How to Survive a Milwaukee Winter Without Becoming a Couch Potato

Summer makes it easy to eat right and stay in shape, but the cold weather can bring out some bad habits. Use these tips to eat right and stay fit all the way till spring.

Take It Inside

No need to call it quits on your favorite warm-weather sports during the winter months. Our city offers lots of indoor options.

Fore Milwaukee. Photo by Kenny Yoo.
Fore Milwaukee. Photo by Kenny Yoo.

If you want to keep your golf game going strong even as the temperature drops outside, look no further. Fore Milwaukee ( offers indoor golf simulators, instructional lessons and even leagues (in which teams of four compete on simulators) year-round. You can book an hour at an interactive simulator for $30 and choose from over 30 championship courses. Lessons start at $60, led by owner, pro golfer and former Marquette golf coach Tim Grogan. The Wisconsin Indoor Golf Center ( offers simulators for $35 an hour.

If you’re itching to ride a two-wheeler and the weather isn’t cooperating, Ray’s Indoor Bike Park ( offers one of the few indoor bike arenas in the country, catering primarily to BMX and mountain bike riders with a wide range of courses and obstacles in its 110,000-square foot facility. Serious riders may want to opt for the annual pass for $350 (open from October to April and select weekends in the summer), but for those who just want to drop in, daily passes start at around $21. Bike rentals are available on-site for $16. For a unique stationary bike experience, Ben’s Cycle ( in Lincoln Village has an indoor training studio that incorporates computer programs to take your workout to the next level. Pricing is $10 to $15 an hour in November and December.

You don’t need to break the bank to join an indoor tennis club, thanks to the Paley Tennis Center ( Membership is free, and includes access to four courts. Court rentals are $36 an hour. Individual lessons are $60 an hour, but gather a group of four and it’s only $34 per person.

In addition to private clubs with indoor pools, Milwaukee offers a number of low-cost options for those who like to swim laps. Milwaukee County Parks ( has two indoor pools: Noyes on the Northwest Side and Pulaski on the South Side. Both offer open swims and lap sessions for $3 and $4 (six-month passes also available). Milwaukee Recreation ( offers three locations starting at $2 a visit and a 10-punch pass for $15. Many suburbs also have pools.

Red Arrow Park. Photo by Randy Scherkenbach.
Red Arrow Park. Photo by Randy Scherkenbach.

Take It Outside

If low temperatures don’t deter you, here are some activities – and routes – where you can get a good winter workout around Milwaukee.

Activity: Skating / Where: Slice of Ice, Red Arrow Park / Distance: N/A / Time: 45 minutes / Calories Burned: 375 on average
Round up the family and hit the ice. Keep up a moderate pace, and you’ll burn a respectable number of calories.

Activity: Biking / Where: Menomonee River Valley / Distance: 8.4-mile round trip / Time: 50 minutes / Calories Burned: about 300
Start at the Mitchell Park Domes. Take the Hank Aaron State Trail, passing through Three Bridges Park and by Miller Park. When you hit the Pettit National Ice Center, head back.

Activity: Walking / Where: McKinley Park to War Memorial Center / Distance: 1.8 mile loop / Time: 40 minutes / Calories Burned: 200
Start at Colectivo Coffee on North Lincoln Memorial Drive. Cross to the east side of the street and head south along Lincoln Memorial. Follow path on east side of pond in Veterans Park. Loop back around at the end of the park, taking Lincoln Memorial north on west side of pond.

Activity: Cross-country skiing / Where: Whitnall Park / Distance: 2 miles / Time: 40 minutes / Calories Burned: 300
Whitnall Park offers several cross-country skiing trails, but its two-mile Red Trail takes up the full loop of the south side of the park.

Cool Tips for Running in the Cold Weather

Dress Down
As a general rule of thumb, plan your outfit as if it were 15 to 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. Feeling a bit chilly at first will help to avoid overheating or sweating excessively.

Layer Wisely
The item closest to your body should be made out of wicking material, which helps pull moisture away from your skin, helping protect you from becoming chilled. For the external layer, choose a jacket that’s water/wind resistant and has ventilation.

Consider Your Feet
If sleet or snow don’t stand in the way of your run, then consider a pair of cold-weather shoes with outsoles that grip icy terrain and uppers made to defend against cold and/or wetness (e.g. Gore-Tex). Planning to go off-road? You can also improve your traction on ice by securing an external cleat/tread system, like YakTrax, to the soles of your shoes.

A shorter stride pattern can be helpful in slippery conditions.

Play It Safe
As days get shorter, add a reflective vest or an outer layer with reflective strips to your gear. If you run in dim or dark conditions, wear small clip-on lights to make you more visible to motorists.
Try: LightSpur LED Foot Light, $20,

Choose the Right Fuel

1116mkehealth_istock_food_graphicPhotos by iStock.

Four Easy Adjustments to Help Avoid Winter Weight Gain

Conventional wisdom says the average American gains five to 10 pounds every winter due to decreased activity, a diet of heavier foods and, of course, holiday feasting. But you don’t have to! Follow these tips for staying slim.

1.  Watch the extras. A nibble here and there can quickly add up to several hundred extra calories a day — or a pound a week! Devise a strategy: Try eating something light but filling before heading to a party. Let treats be “treats,” instead of daily indulgences.

2.  Drink less. Alcohol may make a party more festive, but it’s a good way to quickly pack on pounds. If you’re going to drink, consider “trading” one 150-calorie snack for every drink.

3.  Eat smaller, more regular meals. This will stave off intense hunger and prevent you from overeating at less optimal times, like after dinner or before bed. Your body needs the most fuel during the day, so eat your last meal two to three hours before bedtime.

4.  Move more! Choose to stand instead of sit, walk instead of drive, or climb stairs instead of taking an elevator.Every little bit helps.

1116mkehealth_mm_winter_supplements_final_julia-breckenreidRamp Up Your Supplements

Just as you winterize your house during storm season, so too should you winterize your body to stay healthy. Nutritional supplements are a good way to “fortify the structure,” according to Jonny Bowden, best-selling author of 15 nutrition books. Here are his top recommendations. (Follow instructions on label for dosing, unless indicated below.)

To boost immunity and fight colds
At the first sniffle, start taking vitamin C (500 mg up to six times a day), zinc (15–50 mg) and vitamin E (800 IU). You can also take olive leaf, three herbs (Chinese astragalus, Echinacea purpurea and goldenseal) and elderberry extract, especially Sambucol and ViraPro. Vitamin A is an unsung immune system activator. Bowden likes a more easily absorbed micellized form, which comes in an eyedropper. When fighting an infection, use up to 50,000 IUs for three or four days.

For overall health
Bee propolis is what bees “caulk” their hives with, and it can help you stay healthy. Bees are very prone to infection, and the highly antimicrobial propolis functions like a barrier. Since 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut, taking a good probiotic is important in winter (and year-round). High-quality virgin coconut oil isn’t technically a supplement, but it is rich in lauric acid, a natural antimicrobial.

For winter blues
For mild cases, St. John’s wort, holy basil and 5-HTP (derived from the amino acid tryptophan) can be effective. (See label for dosing, and ask your doctor.) Bowden likes a product called Adaptra, a blend of two adaptogenic herbs.

Illustration by Julia Breckenreid.

Get Your Daily Dose of Light

If shorter days and the approach of winter always bring on oppressive physical and mental symptoms, you might be one of the millions of Americans who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Use these tips to keep your mood on an even keel.
➸ Experts agree that therapeutic light boxes are the most effective therapy. Choose a model with white (not blue) light that gives off close to 10,000 lux (light units). Fluorescents are better than the newer LED-based boxes, which have not been tested as extensively. Try: Northern Light Technology Boxelite, $190.00;
➸ Lift your shades and open blinds. When possible, open a window; sit near it.
➸ Get as much natural sunlight as possible. Spend time outdoors every day.
➸ Exercise regularly.
➸ Try mind-body therapies such as yoga, meditation, guided imagery, acupuncture or massage therapy.
➸ Go to bed at the same time every night.
➸ Try supplements that target mild depression, such as the ones listed at left. Also, ask your doctor for a blood test to check your vitamin D level. If it’s deficient, include up to 2,000 IU of vitamin D in your daily vitamin regime.

Suzanne Gerber is a Florida-based freelancer who covers health, food, travel, relationships and spirituality.

‘MKE Winter Survival Guide’ appears in Milwaukee Health 2016, a special issue from Milwaukee Magazine.

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