Does your fitness routine go into hibernation during the colder months? It doesn’t have to; there are plenty of ways to stay active and prevent weight gain during winter.
When you wake up in the mornings it’s dark, and when you leave work its more than likely dark or getting dark, during the colder months. You may find it’s easy to put off exercise until tomorrow. But, sticking to a regular fitness routine is vital if you want to stay in shape and take care of your health.
The two biggest challenges associated with exercise during winter are finding a place to train – outdoors, indoors or at home – and finding the motivation to stay active.
There is usually no reason why you can’t continue a wide range of activities all year round, provided the weather isn’t extreme. It really depends on the type of activity you enjoy. You just need to:
- Wear suitable clothing. Fabrics that keep moisture away from your skin will prevent you becoming wet and chilled. Walkers and joggers should wear brightly coloured or reflective clothing to increase visibility.
- Wear a hat. When going out in the cold, it is advisable to wear a hat. About one-third of your body’s heat loss occurs through the head.
- Dress in layers. Wear plenty of light layers so you can gradually peel them off as you become warm. You should be a little cool starting out. Avoid sweating, as you may become chilled.
- Exercise caution. Beware of slippery surfaces, and exercise in daylight when possible. You must anticipate that drivers may not be able to see you or stop quickly. It’s also wise to perform a longer warm-up in these colder conditions.
- Keep your fluid levels up. Drinking water regularly is just as important during winter as it is in summer. Cold weather will stimulate urine production, and every breath you can see is water droplets being exhaled from your body.
- Communicate any concerns with your doctor. Some medical conditions make winter exercise dangerous. Exercising in cold weather can bring on angina (heart-related chest pain), and may trigger asthma in asthmatics. Its always best to check first with your doctor if you have any health concerns, especially if you are older or have been inactive for more than eight weeks.
Avoid Weight Gain
People often gain weight in winter because they become less active, eat more food, and spend less time outdoors. To counteract winter weight gain, look for ways to stick to your regular routine, and monitor your intake. Tomato and vegetable-based soups are a great way to fill up on high-nutrient foods without taking on too many kilojoules. It’s worth checking out our nutritional guides here.
There are also a number of options if you want to exercise indoors. This winter, consider:
- Joining a gym. Health and fitness centres provide a wide variety of exercise options in a comfortable and supportive environment. A rolling monthly membership will get you through winter without too much expense.
- Indoor sports. Many sports can be played indoors, such as basketball, volleyball, badminton and squash to name a few. It’s also worth looking into Martial Arts, as there are many out there suited to different requirements.
- Indoor climbing. If you aren’t afraid of heights, indoor climbing centres offer a unique way of boosting your strength and stamina. Climbing walls are usually graded to suit all levels of strength and ability, and clubs are becoming more and more popular for all age groups in the UK.
- Aqua training. If you live near an indoor heated pool, you could swim some laps, or try an aqua aerobics class. Training in water has a low risk of injury, and is a great way to add variety to your workout routine.
Exercising at home
When it’s cold and miserable, rarely would you want to step foot outside. Having some exercise options at home can make all the difference. You could try:
- Exercise equipment. There is a range of cardiovascular machines and strength-training equipment to suit every budget. If price is a concern, look to rent, or buy second-hand equipment. Set the machine in front of the television, or listen to music. Choose something that’s practical, enjoyable and easy to use.
- Do housework with vigour. Make a workout of your regular household maintenance. Sweep, scrub, mop and vacuum, a little bit faster than normal, this will get your heart rate up. Be creative and increase your level of movement around the house.
- Exercise DVDs TV Programs and web videos. There are numerous exercise DVDs on the market, covering everything from yoga to step aerobics. There are also some early-morning tv programs that take you through a variety of cardiovascular and toning routines and being in the 21stcentury plenty of videos to be viewed online.
- In-house circuits. Many exercises can be performed at home with little or no equipment. A basic routine could be developed by mixing and matching some of the cardiovascular and toning exercises listed below. Always start out slowly, then push yourself a little harder as your fitness levels improve.
- Cardiovascular exercises
- Star jumps
- Shadow boxing
- Dancing to music
- Step-ups (on a small, sturdy box, step or chair)
- Jogging on the spot
- Toning and strengthening exercises
- Push-ups (on your knees or toes)
- Chair dips
- Weightless squats (performed slowly)
- Weightless lunges
- Hand weight exercises
- Fit ball exercises
Don’t use the cold weather as an excuse not to exercise. To help keep you on track follow these motivational tips:
- Stay close to home. Choose a place to exercise that is comfortable and close to where you live or work. Lack of time has been identified as the number one barrier that stops people from exercising, so it makes sense to minimise your travel time.
- Train with a friend or partner. Finding a training partner with similar goals can add enjoyment to your exercise routine, and serve as an additional source of motivation. Having someone else depending on you can make the difference between a pre-breakfast workout and a lazy morning spent on the sofa.
- Expect setbacks, and learn from them. There will always be times when things don’t go your way, or you have may have a little less time. It’s easy to find excuses not to exercise, and sometimes these are genuine. At whatever cost don’t quit, make adjustments to change your direction.
- Just do it. Don’t ponder about working out, just get on with it! The more you think about it, the more likely you are to talk yourself out of it. Once you’re in motion, you’ll find it easier to continue. While it is admirable to think, talk and read about exercise, there is no substitute for actually doing it.
Now that you’ve read through what your body requires for the winter, make sure stay in shape. If you require any martial arts equipment such as indoor exercise mats, or just require further information on our products then please visit our main page.