5 Ways to Stay Fit in Super Cold Hudson Valley Weather

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As temperatures hit their lowest of the season, we asked a local fitness guru to share tactics for dealing with ultra-cold climates.

If you have glanced at the thermometer lately, you know it is getting pretty cold out there. Weather patterns have brought bracingly cold arctic air into the Hudson Valley, and those who want to remain fit may have to adjust. We sought out Westchester Fit founder Chris Guerrero to shed a little light on how you can remain in tip-top shape even during the coldest days in our region.

Warm up Effectively

“Cold weather equals a recipe for disaster if you don’t warm-up properly,” says Guerrero. “Think about spending five to 10 minutes getting your heart rate up, followed by five to 10 minutes of dynamic stretching before getting into your training.”


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Take Your Cardio Indoors

“Hop into a class at your local functional fitness facility that offers classes involving rowers, air bikes, and stand-up ski ergs,” advises Guerrero. Or, try to maximize your workout at home.

Try Strength Training

“If [strength training] is something you normally do, keep it up. If you’re more of an outdoors person—and you live in the Northeast—plan to do some strength training,” says Guerrero. “Even if you hate lifting weights, it’s good for you and will suit you well once it’s outdoor hiking/triathlon/mountain biking season.”


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Maintain Your Diet

“People have the tendency develop so-called ‘winter bodies,’ pack on the pounds, and then start over for the summer,” says Guerrero. “In my book, it’s always beach season. Continue a healthy lifestyle comprised of lean meats, veggies, and healthy fats with limited sugar, grains, and dairy. Get proper sleep and manage your stress levels. This will ensure proper recovery from workouts, especially fighting the winter blues.”

Stay Hydrated

“Lack of water will not only affect your overall health, but it will really limit your performance,” explains Guerrero. “People make the mistake of drinking less water during winter months because they feel colder or aren’t sweating as much. You should always aim to consume 50 percent of your body weight in ounces [of water].”

Related: What to Bring With You on Hudson Valley Hikes This Winter

Did You Know These 10 Facts About the History of Groundhog Day?

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Learn more about Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, the infamous groundhog weather forecaster who determines how long winter will last.

Meteorologists have had it rough in the Hudson Valley (we’re talking about you, topsy-turvy temperatures). Perhaps instead of looking to the skies for their forecasts, they should follow the lead of one furry fellow in Pennsylvania and keep their eyes on the ground.

First established by Germans in America in 1887, Groundhog Day was actually inspired by Europe’s Candlemas Day, during which clergymen would bless the candles they needed for the cold season. If the candles brought a sunny day, there would be six more weeks of winter. Conversely, clouds and rain signified that winter would end soon.


Nowadays, thousands gather at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to wait for an aptly named groundhog to emerge with his verdict — the validity of which, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is questionable. Statistically speaking, it’s more likely that Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow than not: From 1887 to 2022, Phil has seen his shadow 106 times and only overlooked it 20 times. (Mysteriously, there are 10 years where no records of Phil’s predictions exist at all.)

To get in the spirit of Groundhog Day ahead of this year’s prediction—whether you want six more weeks of winter or not—here are 10 fun facts about the holiday.

Adobe Stock / Manfredbohn

Groundhog Fun Facts

1. Punxsutawney Phil is the official groundhog forecaster on February 2, but many states have their own (like New York’s Staten Island Chuck).

2. Phil’s full name, granted by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, is Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.

3. Groundhogs typically weigh between 12 and 15 pounds.

4. Groundhogs only live six to eight years, but folklore suggests that Phil sips an “elixir of life” that extends his lifespan by seven years with each sip.

5. The Germans originally chose a hedgehog as their animal forecaster. They turned to groundhogs instead when they discovered a large amount of them in Pennsylvania. Hence, Groundhog Day!

6. Hibernation is similar to being in a coma. When groundhogs hibernate, their heart rates drop to five beats per minute and their body temperature decreases dramatically.

7. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club hosts a three-day celebration each year for Groundhog Day.

8. The popular movie of the same name (starring former Rockland County resident Bill Murray) gave meaning to the phrase “groundhog day”: to repeat something over and over again.

9. While groundhogs have their 15 minutes of fame each February, many farmers consider them pests for the rest of the year. They are herbivores, typically eating fruits, grasses, plants, and even tree bark.

10. According to ABCNews, the National Climatic Data Center found that there is no correlation between Phil’s prediction and the actual weather forecast.

So, what’s your prediction? More wintry weather, or blue skies and sunshine?

Related: King George VI and FDR Ate Hot Dogs in Hyde Park

How to Display Art Effectively in Your Hudson Valley Home

Want to display art at home? Read on. Photo by Adobe Stock

The Hudson Valley home design expert behind Walnut Hill shares her advice for purchasing and showcasing the perfect piece of art.

In search of an eye-catching piece of art to brighten up that blank wall? Or do you already have the perfect work of art but need a way to display it? Wherever you are with introducing art into your home, this advice from Jennifer Kahrs, the owner and creative engineer behind Walnut Hill, the exhibition framing and fine arts shop in Hudson, will help you get started. Here are her tips for purchasing and displaying the perfect works of art.

Q: What is the best way to select art for your home?

A: There are many ways to go about it. From my perspective, the best purchase is one that resonates with you and that you will never tire of looking at. Market trends are going to change and, whereas you could buy for purely investment purposes, kudos if you do, nothing is better than supporting young artists and being rewarded later for your excellent taste.

Display Art
The right piece of art can make a room pop. Adobe Stock

Q: Should it match the décor of your home, or just feel right to you? 

A: You are more likely to change your décor than your art. Buy art and build your décor around it. It never hurts when everything feels connected.

Q: Why should you hire a professional for framing? 

A : Sometimes you can be successful if you are a DIY person, but many times, professional framers have techniques and tools that make a huge difference in presentation. Framing is the final step in completing any work of art.

Related: Hoener Farms Crafts Reclaimed Wood Furniture in the Hudson Valley

The Winter Superfoods to Add to Your Diet in the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock /  Natasha Breen

‘Tis the season for sniffles and sneezes! Fuel your body with these winter superfoods to stay healthy in the Hudson Valley.

It seems that spring and summer are prime time for finding top-notch superfoods. Blackberries and blueberries are abundant, tomatoes are ripe, and a wealth of leafy greens pop up on store shelves. Believe it or not, winter has its own bounty of uber healthful fruits and vegetables. “I always like to eat with the seasons, fresh and local is always best,” says Jodi Baretz a holistic health and wellness coach in the Hudson Valley. “The winter calls for warming foods, and so many of them are so good for us.” We asked Baretz to round up five of her top picks for great winter superfoods.

Winter superfoods
Adobe Stock / Natasha Breen

Root Vegetables

“Veggies like parsnips, turnips, and beets are delicious roasted with a little olive oil,” says Baretz. “They are high in fiber and minerals from the soil. I roast them for dinner, and any leftovers I blend with chicken stock for soup the next day.” Beets in particular contain a beneficial antioxidant called betalains, which have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body.

Avocado toast
Adobe Stock / Anastasia Izofatova


Baretz calls winter-ready avocados “a heart healthy fat that helps reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol.” The winter superfood also contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals including magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, vitamin B6, and niacin. “Guacamole is a popular favorite, but also great to put mashed on toast in the morning with some lemon juice and salt.”

Winter squash
Adobe Stock / Brent Hofacker

Winter Squash

“Delicious with lots of beta-carotene, squash comes in many varieties such as butternut, spaghetti and acorn,” explains Baretz. She adds that squash is easy to roast or mash — or to serve spaghetti squash topped with pesto or tomato sauce.

Citrus fruits
Adobe Stock / Maresol

Citrus Fruits

“Grapefruits, oranges, clementines, and limes are all in season and contain flavonoids that combat free radicals,” explains Baretz. “So add the lemons and limes to water and use plentifully. Plus, clementines are a great snack for kids and they love them.”

Adobe Stock / Magdalena Bujak


“Another veggie that is delicious roasted that my kids gobble up, cauliflower is a great source of Vitamin K and you can even ‘rice’ it as a substitute for carbs,” says Baretz. The sulfur compound sulforaphane, found in this white cruciferous vegetable, has also been shown to potentially help fight cancer in lab tests.

What is her go-to recipe? “Cauliflower fried rice is a favorite,” says Baretz. “Simply rice the cauliflower — or buy it riced — sauté with frozen veggies, an egg, and tamari or soy sauce. You can add scallions or whatever else you want to it.”

RELATED: 6 Supreme Anti-Aging Foods 

Here’s What to Avoid When Shopping for Healthy Vegan Food

Adobe Stock / Syda Productions

Plus, read up on local foodies who steer clear of unhealthy ingredients and additives in their vegan products.

Choosing a vegan lifestyle requires thought, attention to detail, and time. While the concept of eating a plant-based diet can be appealing, if you don’t carefully read labels in premade products, you could potentially ingest a variety of additives, preservatives, and other ingredients. Buyer beware: Mystery ingredients may sacrifice the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle. A guiding rule is not to buy products with ingredients you don’t recognize and/or cannot pronounce. And when in doubt, opt for a local, small batch product that was crafted with care.

What to Avoid

We’re all familiar with culprits such as aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and food dyes, but these lesser known additives and preservatives can also be harmful to your health when adopting a healthy vegan lifestyle:

Textured vegetable protein: Textured vegetable protein, commonly referred to as TVP, is a flavorless, inexpensive protein made from soy. It can easily be shaped into food products (think nuggets or burgers), but in order to provide flavor, it’s often filled with flavoring, coloring, and even thickening agents.

Hydrolyzed proteins: Similar to MSG, this protein is used to enhance flavor. And like MSG, it will increase your insulin response, convincing you that you can eat more than you should.

Vegan cheese
Cheese from Wendy’s Vegetarian Kitchen are ideal for healthy vegan eating. Hudson Valley magazine photo

Certain oils: If oil is not labeled as being first cold-pressed, then it’s likely refined and may have been produced with chemical solvents. Other oils, such as canola, safflower, and palm oil, can come from genetically modified sources and not be environmentally responsible.

Common offenders: Frozen meals — such as veggie burgers, sausages, chicken, pizzas, or pastas — are often filled with many of the ingredients listed above and often have minimal nutritional value. Processed snacks, like vegetable chips, are usually not healthy either, as they are made with starches, oils, sugar, and salt. Even vegan desserts should be carefully reviewed, as they can sometimes contain bloated nutrition facts; butter and eggs are replaced with sugars, starches, and oils.

So, What Can I Have?

While foods made from fresh produce, whole grains, and well-rounded salads are the most nutritional choices, they may not always be an option. There are “safe” prepared foods, and some are even produced locally.

“The first way to eat healthy is to cook for yourself,” recommends Marie Rama, a local cookbook author. “If you think you are going to go into a store and get a sandwich made of jackfruit, that’s great. But if it’s doused with sweet, oily barbecue sauce…Don’t kid yourself — that’s not what you should be eating.”

“It all comes down to a personal preference as to how pure you want your product. What do you want to put in your body? Everyone has a different threshold of what they will or won’t digest.”
– Wendy Grossman

Rama’s vegan lifestyle was inspired by her husband, who through extensive research and doctor recommendations decided to remove all animal products and oils from his diet in order to regain his health. But because she believes that good food is always “real food,” she was surprised at what she found on store shelves. Her skepticism regarding packaged vegan products became the motivation to make her own sauce — a pure vegetable product with no oil, sugar, or water.

Small-batch cheeses are usually another safe product. While many larger brands load their cheeses with water, starches, and fillers, small-batch cheeses are more nutritionally dense. Chef Wendy Grossman’s cheeses are a perfect example. Available locally and online, Wendy’s Nutty Cheeses are created with a base of soy or cashews, coconut oil, a fermenting ingredient, salt, and a variety of spices — no fillers, starches, or gums.

Adobe Stock / Diane Webb

Grossman began to experiment after being disappointed by a vegan feta she tasted in her restaurant. She conducted research, worked with different nuts and oils, and eventually developed a line of healthy, vegan cheeses that includes classic flavors, such as cheddar and blue, as well as unique combinations, like fig and fennel or Mt. St. Helen’s Smoked Salt & ’Shrooms.

“It all comes down to a personal preference as to how pure you want your product,” says Grossman. “What do you want to put in your body? Everyone has their different threshold of what they will or won’t digest. Look at the ingredients and decide if it’s what you want to eat.”

Related: Vegans, Are You Missing Vital Nutrients?

The Coziest French Onion Soup Recipe Is Easier Than You Think

Adobe Stock / Maria Lapina

Who doesn’t love a good French onion soup? Make it perfect at home with thinly sliced onions, melty cheese, and a glug of white wine.

As we nosh our way through winter, we occasionally forego a “real” dinner in lieu of a hearty soup and salad. Onion soup—all deep, dark, and cheesy—is one of our favorite. It’s also so satisfying we suspect the calorie count is astronomical. But don’t tell us. Ignorance is bliss.

It takes a while to cook, but after the initial stirring, you can let it simmer on its own. It’s best if you use a rich, homemade beef broth or the better brands that come in a carton rather than the overly salty, canned types. As for what to serve it with, a simple salad and a baguette make the perfect accompaniments. Planning a dinner party? Impress your guests with this crisp salad recipe, which features flavors like celery root and apple.

French Onion Soup

Makes 6 servings


About 5 cups of thinly sliced yellow onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp sugar
3 Tbsp flour
½ cup dry white wine
2 qts of beef broth
½ lb Gruyere, grated
Baguette, cut in ¾ inch-thick slices, lightly toasted

Adobe Stock / Kolesnikovserg


Place the onions, butter and oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, cover and cook slowly for about 15 minutes.

Uncover the pot, stir in the salt and sugar (which helps the onions to brown) and continue to cook very slowly for about 30 to 40 minutes more, stirring often, until the onions are caramelized to a deep golden brown. Don’t skimp on this step!

Meanwhile, heat the beef broth in a separate pan.

Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the wine and continue stirring for a few minutes more. Then pour in the warm beef broth and simmer for another 30 to 40 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle the soup into individual ovenproof bowls, float a baguette slice or two on each and top with a generous layer of grated cheese. Put the bowls under the broiler or into a hot oven for about 10 minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

Serve along with more baguette and a green salad.

Related: 5 New York Wines Perfect for Winter Sipping in the Hudson Valley

San Miguel Academy Helps Underprivileged Students in Newburgh

Photos courtesy of San Miguel Academy of Newburgh

Newburgh’s San Miguel Academy gives underprivileged children every reason to succeed in the Hudson Valley and beyond.

Growing up in Newburgh isn’t always easy, though the city boasts a distinguished pedigree. It served as the headquarters of George Washington and the Continental Army from the spring of 1782 to the summer of 1783, shortly before the Revolutionary War officially ended. Today, however, Newburgh fights different battles.

According to the United States Census Bureau, about 22 percent of its residents live in poverty. Newburgh’s students face challenges as well—in August 2021, the NYS Education Department reported a four-year graduation rate of 76 percent. In other words, nearly one in four students had slipped away by the time their classmates put on caps and gowns.

Yet on an unassuming street in the south side of downtown, there’s a small school that encompasses grades five through eight, and in those years sets up its students to beat the odds. An impressive 97 percent of students will go on to graduate high school, and 90 percent ultimately attend college, go into a trade, enter the military, or pursue other fulfilling work. A cadre of devoted teachers, led by an exceptional director, create this very special institution. It’s private, it’s incredible, and its name is San Miguel Academy.

San Miguel rowing

“Originally, San Miguel was my vision, that is true,” concedes executive director Father Mark Connell, 63, who by nature prefers to give credit to others. The idea for the Academy first came to him when he began working as a professor at Newburgh’s Mount Saint Mary College in 1998. “I was quite comfortable, as college professors are, but as I started to move around Newburgh, I saw a poverty that shocked me,” he recalls. “I realized my words weren’t matching my life. You can preach a message, but are you living the message?”

That tenet, Father Connell explains, is one all religions uphold: “All people have dignity. All people have a right to live a life with opportunity,” he says. In Chappaqua, where he served as an assistant priest on weekends, he began sharing stories of Newburgh’s under-resourced children. He and a group of friends there formed a board to create an outstanding middle school in Newburgh, and then held a large fundraising dinner that netted around $1 million. Years of feasibility studies, further fundraising, and conversations with Albany’s education department followed, until at last, in July 2006, San Miguel opened its doors. At first it was a boys’ school, but in 2020 it expanded its mission and became co-ed.

Walk through the front door and you’ll see approximately 60 students—80 percent Hispanic, 20 percent African American—cozily ensconced in bright and airy classrooms, or eating lunch in a spacious hall. One hundred percent of the children qualify for free meals. Although each student is treated as an individual brimming with promise, they all wear neat uniforms. “Parents want their kids to look nice for school, but finding good school clothes is hard,” said Father Connell. We said, ‘OK, we’ll provide the uniform.’ That ended that conversation.”

In one important way, however, they do have an advantage—their futures will almost certainly be brighter than those of the other young people just beyond San Miguel’s door. There are, Father Connell says, “a number of gangs here who compete for the drug trade.” Yet many of their members are actually in favor of the school. “They say to themselves, ‘We wish somebody had helped us, so we didn’t have to live this kind of life,’” shares Father Connell. “Some of the kids here have older siblings in the gangs. And then finally, the mom brings the [youngest] child here, saying, ‘Can you save this one? I’ve lost my other kids.’”

San Miguel is equally determined that no child enrolled there will be lost. A six-week Summer Scholars Program runs from July to August, preventing summer slide and shielding students from the city’s streets, which rank among the most violent in the nation. Each student is also connected to a social worker, and collaborative partnerships with Catholic charities provide guidance and positive reinforcement. The school remained open throughout the pandemic for in-person instruction.

Nor are San Miguel kids pushed from the nest after their graduation. The school places them at prestigious private schools on generous scholarships when possible, and helps them every step of the way through their academic careers. Alumni can reach out for mentoring, test prep, tutoring, and counseling services straight through their senior year of college, if they attend one.

San Miguel Academy students

Tito Jimenez, 22, is one example of the successful young adults San Miguel nurtures. After graduation, he attended the highly regarded Canterbury School, based in New Milford, Connecticut, and then went on to SUNY Maritime, where he studied international training and transportation. Now in the Navy, he hopes to become a lieutenant.

He thinks fondly of how San Miguel guided him. “My life would have been different if I hadn’t been here,” he reflects. “I don’t know what I would be doing right now if it wasn’t for San Miguel and their support.”

Colleges are also grateful for San Miguel’s role in creating excellent scholars. “SUNY Maritime College admires the level of respect, intelligence, and preparedness San Miguel Academy students have,” says Alex El Hou, the school’s assistant director of admissions for communications and international student coordinator. “A few traits essential to success at SUNY Maritime College are preparedness, motivation, drive, determination, and extreme humility. San Miguel students have these traits.”

Another institution eager to sing its praises is Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry. “We are delighted to welcome San Miguel Academy students into the Mercy family,” says president Tim Hall. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to continue Father Connell’s early intervention work to advance the lives of San Miguel students, who have already accomplished so much. Mercy College is proud to help them complete their journeys.”

The journey at San Miguel begins with a selective process. “The number-one criteria is that you have to be on the National School Lunch Program,” explains Father Connell. Among the other factors assessed is whether a child will have a level of support at home that will allow them to do well at the school.

“My life would have been different if I hadn’t been here. I don’t know what I would be doing right now if it wasn’t for San Miguel and their support.”

Once a child is accepted, though, a world of opportunity awaits—including one of the largest middle-school rowing teams in the country. Last year, the team earned a first-place finish in a race at the Northeast Youth Championships, which qualified the team for the USRowing Youth National Championship in Sarasota, Florida. There, the group came in 11th place. Two-thirds of the San Miguel student body participates in the rowing program, becoming adept at a sport often viewed as elite. Certainly, it doesn’t hurt their college-admissions prospects down the line.

When they return to the school building, the children aren’t just back on land—they’re well grounded. San Miguel’s more than half a dozen teachers all have master’s degrees. “You need educated teachers,” says Father Connell. The facilities also encourage innovation; in the science lab, for instance, you’ll find a 3-D printer, laster cutters, robotics and Lego kits, and a flight simulator.

Nor does the day necessarily end when the last bell rings; San Miguel also provides an additional two hours of instruction through its Soaring Eagle Enrichment Program. (“It’s a fancy name that one of our development directors gave to our after-school program,” jokes Father Connell.) Among its many clubs are robotics, in which students not only design a robot, but learn to program it to follow a track on the school grounds. And then there’s so much more, including a fitness club, a laser-cutting club that made Christmas ornaments last year, and the “Financial Cents-ability” club, which teaches kids basic financial literacy. “About 95 percent of our families opt to participate in our after-school clubs, because it keeps their kids supervised,” says Father Connell.

These robust programs lead to big dreams. Nelli, 14, takes a break from her lunch to share her long game: She plans to attend the well-respected Northfield Mount Hermon School in Gill, Massachusetts, a co-ed college-prep institution. From there, “I want to become a pediatrician,” she says excitedly.

Her friend Gianna, 13, will follow Tito’s steps to Canterbury School this fall. “When I grow up, I want to be an entrepreneur or a teacher,” she shares. “It’s been a really great experience here,” she adds. “It’s so different from [public] school, especially the relationships we have with other people here and our teachers.” Nelli agrees. “Also, we have grown a lot more mentally, being able to do so much physical work. For example, I’m doing rowing now.” So is Gianna.

San Miguel is determined to keep students like these flourishing. A benefit concert last May, called Swingin’ Into Spring, raised $35,000. The funds will help ensure many more proud graduates. But from their very first day at school, students are assured their disadvantaged backgrounds should never be a source of shame. “Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness,” reads a sign above the middle school entrance.

At San Miguel, they get exactly that.

Related: Inside Thomas Cole’s Rise to Fame With the Hudson River School

3 Firewood Tips to Stay Warm in the Hudson Valley This Winter

Do you have enough firewood for the winter season? Adobe Stock / Rawf8

Efficiency, combined with old-fashioned charm, makes wood a good choice for heating your Hudson Valley home when the temperature drops.

With Jack Frost nipping at your nose, how do you stay warm and cozy in the Hudson Valley? With a fireplace or wood-burning stove, of course.

Jeffrey Viola, owner of The Cord King in Dover Plains, says you’ll save money by heating with firewood. “Wood keeps your home at a higher temperature than oil, propane, or electric, and for less money.”

However, you must obtain, dry, and store the wood. That means planning ahead before temperatures drop and winter storms strike the Hudson Valley. “It’s peace of mind that no matter what happens with prices and crazy weather events, your heating supply is in your backyard.”

Types of firewood: “Seasoned means air-dried with a moisture content of 20 percent or less,” says Viola. “It’s cut and split, and allowed to age and dry with solar energy and wind. Kiln-dried is dried in a lumber kiln and is drier than seasoned. It’s sterilized to kill bugs or mold.”

Obtaining firewood: “Some people cut and split their own trees or call a logging contractor and order a truckload,” he says. If you’re running low, there’s no time like the present to pick up wood so you’re ready to go the next time you want to kick your fireplace or wood-burning stove into gear.

Storing it: “Allow air and sunlight to get to the wood. It will dry naturally on its own,” he says.

Remember, water does not burn. “Order wood a year in advance so it has time to dry,” he says. “Wet wood will burn, but it just takes longer and is less efficient.”

Related: How to Choose the Best Fireplace For Your Home

How to Keep Your Dog Active Through Winter in the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock | Photo by olegosp

If your dog simply hates the cold, there are still several ways to keep it active and healthy, a Hudson Valley veterinarian explains.

In the warm weather, it’s easy to snap a leash onto your pup and treat them to a nice walk. But what if your dog doesn’t like the cold weather, or the thermometer won’t budge out of the single digits? How can you keep your pets active when they don’t want to (or shouldn’t) venture outside? Dr. Holly Kalba of Pine Plains Veterinary Hospital offers answers.

Canine Clothing

If your dog is reluctant to go out, maybe it’s because he’s cold. “You can use vests and/or jackets to give another layer of warmth,” says Kalba. “Start with a dry winter day and ‘high value treats’ to give them encouragement….Where one would think booties could help, some dogs like them, some don’t. If the dog has been walking in areas where there is road salt, it is best to rinse their feet off with warm water.”

Outdoor Play

If your dog loves being outside, you may think you’re all set, but too much of a good thing is not always your best bet. How long can she safely stay outside?  “There are many variables. Truly, any weather that is too cold for us to be out for extended periods is too cold for them. In single-digit temps, they should only be out for their ‘business’ and right back in. Remember to have water available if they’re playing or hiking over 30 minutes on a nice winter day.”

Adobe Stock | Photo by Chalabala

Snow Tips

“It’s fine to play fetch with snowballs, just be careful of the direction of your throws. Some dogs get so focused on the snowball, they will run in the direction of danger if you make an ‘unplanned’ toss. Eating snow is fine as long as it’s ‘clean.’ We discourage eating snow or slush from roadsides with potentially high salt content.”

Indoor Play

If your pooch resists going outside to play, there are core exercises — ‘sit-to-stand,’ ‘cookie stretches,’ or ‘wheelbarrowing’ — that can be done inside to help maintain muscle strength.  You can also make an indoor canine gym with a few pieces of equipment. Kalba admits it’s difficult to build cardiovascular strength with medium to large dogs indoors unless you utilize treadmills.

Couch Potato Pooches

“If your dog prefers to lie down all day, be proactive and reduce the daily amount of food,” Kalba offers. “Being overweight has serious health consequences for our dogs.”

Related: 5 Facts About the Winter Solstice You Probably Didn’t Know

5 Ways to Navigate the Overcrowded Gym Post-New Year

Not a fan of the overcrowded gym? Here’s how to get around it. Adobe Stock / .shock

The new year brings with it a deluge of gym rats determined to get healthy. Here’s how to make your way through a hectic weight room.

“With the New Year approaching, the first thing that comes to my mind is crowded gyms,” says Angela LoBrutto, personal trainer at Jacked Fitness in Valhalla. And she isn’t kidding. Gym attendance reaches its peak during the months of January and February, when all those New Year’s resolutions come home to roost. LoBrutto offers several ways in which you can make the most of your time on the treadmill while avoiding the winter rush and overcrowded gyms.

1. Try Off-Hours

While it may seem obvious, hitting the gym very early or very late — at least for the next month or so — can go a long way. “I suggest trying to go during off hours,” advises LoBrutto. “Yes, that means going to the gym at the crack of dawn. I mean, they do say ‘the early bird gets the worm.’”


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2. Sharing Is Caring

Try sharing equipment with that one annoying guy who claims a bar or machine but only uses it once every 10 minutes. “If you happen to be waiting for a machine, ask the current user if you can ‘work in’ with them in between their sets,” says LoBrutto. “While they are resting, you can use the machine and switch so then you can rest.”

3. Don’t Ignore the Cardio Machines

“People tend to shy away from cardio machines like the strider or elliptical because they don’t think they will get a ‘hard enough’ workout,” notes LoBrutto. “Truth be told, if you increase the resistance or raise the incline on the ramp, your effort level will prove that theory wrong.”


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4. Skip the Gym

“Don’t feel like waiting?” asks LoBrutto. “You can always get a killer workout by doing body weight exercises including push-ups, tricep dips, situps, and planks without using any equipment. You can always find room on the floor for that!”

5. Machines and Dumbbells

LoBrutto is quick to point out that machines are just as effective to use as dumbbells, so don’t be shy about using either. “It’s all about the weight you use, or the exercise you superset it with,” she explains. “Try increasing the weight on the machine and doing 10 push-ups in between each set to really ‘burn out’ your shoulders.” According to LoBrutto, this goes for both sexes: “Ladies, don’t worry! Increasing the weight will not ‘bulk’ you. You will actually burn more.”

Related: This Is Your Essential Winter Hiking Checklist