Exercising during winter can seem like an almost impossible task due to the shorter days, the bitter cold and the dark evenings. But, in order to stay healthy, to help manage our mood and to continue with our healthy weight goals, it is essential – some say, perhaps even more so since our natural ‘hibernation’ mode wants to kick in, leading to a craving for all those processed white carbs that pile on the pounds. Also, due to the lack of light over the winter months, it’s crucial we get those endorphins (or ‘happy hormones’) pumping at this time of year.
Some people can’t bear the thought of exercising outside in the dark mornings or evenings, but it’s sometimes a matter of just readjusting our attitude and realising how important it is to still get out there. Getting outside is so beneficial as it means we spend time in nature (proven to be good for our mental health) and away from digital screens and devices. Although it may not be as easy to exercise outside as it was during the summer months, there are some tips that make it easier:
- Layer up: put on a thin base layer made of synthetic fabrics. Then, if it’s really cold outside, wear a middle layer, such as polar fleece and, finally, add an outer layer (or shell) such as a lightweight nylon windbreaker, or a heavyweight, waterproof jacket. Remove layers as necessary to prevent overheating.
- Protect your extremities: wearing a hat and good quality socks goes far in keeping you comfortable.
- Always warm-up first: warm-ups increase blood flow and temperature in the muscles to help decrease the risk of injuries. Colder temperatures put us at increased risk of sprains and strains so it’s well worth doing.
- Keep drinking: some of us don’t feel as thirsty during cold-weather workouts but we’re still losing fluids through sweat and breathing in lower temperatures so we need to replace those fluids by drinking enough water both before and after our workouts.
- Be visible: do make sure that you’re visible to cars and other pedestrians by wearing a high-vis vest and reflective/flashing lights. Poor visibility from rain or overcast or dark skies makes it tougher for others to see you. These also improve visibility for you, too, to help prevent missteps and falls.
Some Indoor Ideas For Exercising
Some of us (myself included) sometimes just can’t bear the cold. Instead of missing a workout, always remember you have other options besides the outdoors. The ideal is to mix up a few outdoor activities with some indoor ones, such as:
- Set up a home gym: you can easily set up a great workout area in your living room or garage and buy some inexpensive equipment such as hand weights, a skipping rope, stretch bands and a stability ball. Put some music on and get going! See our ideas for a simple programme below. Why not enlist a partner or your teenager to ‘buddy up’ together too?
- Start climbing those stairs: either at home or at work, spend as little as five minutes at a time climbing up and down the stairs for a very intense and efficient workout. Believe it or not, the research proves that taking the staris actually makes a significant enough impact on our calorie burn and our overall health!
- Try out squash: If you are looking for a fast way to burn fat and calories, squash is a great option. Unlike the usual cardio machine workout, you reap the benefits of using every muscle in your body and by constantly moving from side to side and up and down the court. You won’t even notice the time go by – we promise!
Simple Home Programme to Try
- Skipping rope: 30 seconds, six times
- Pushups: three sets of 10 to 15 reps
- Tricep Dips: three sets of 15
- Regular Crunches: three sets of 25
- Bicycle Crunches: three sets of 30; 15 each leg
- Plank: three sets of 60 seconds
- Lunges With Dumbbells: three sets; 15 each leg
- Squats With Dumbbells: three sets; 15 reps
- Bicep Curls: three sets of 15
- Overhead Press: three sets of 15
Positve Rewards From Exercising
Don’t forget it’s so important to reward yourself for all your efforts. Have a lovely soak in the bath with some Radox or epsom salts after exercise, or book yourself in for a massage or facial after each consecutive month of winter workouts. Also remember it’s important to take rest days in order to allow muscles to recover. These days feel particularly luxurious if you light the fire, put on your pajamas and enjoy a cosy night in, especially if you’ve been doing your workouts out in the cold for the rest of the week!