It’s cold! The days are shorter! If a hot chocolate in front of the fire is much more appealing than venturing outside, you’re only human. It’s no wonder we lose the motivation to exercise during the winter months.
But winter’s also when we tend to gain weight and while a few extra pounds here and there due to a natural increase in calories won’t harm, it’s the long-term effects of more significant weight gain that can cause problems. Winter’s also when we’re more likely to sustain an injury and if we are unlucky enough to become injured, research shows that pain’s felt more in colder climates.
So how do we continue to prioritise exercise at this time of year? After all, it’s needed to maintain our weight and fitness levels, to prevent injuries, and to take care of our mental wellbeing.
Here are our top tips for exercising when it’s cold.
- Increase your warm-up
Still heading out? Great. Just remember to spend a little longer warming up first. We’d always recommend a warm-up before undertaking any form of exercise, but when temperatures drop it’s even more important to get your blood circulating and your heart rate up before starting your workout.
Prepare your body while still indoors with some simple stretches and some jogging on the spot – your body will handle the colder weather better and you’ll achieve a more successful session. Not to mention you’re more likely to prevent those winter injuries!
- Dress for it
There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing! And that definitely applies when exercising in the winter.
It’s sensible to invest in outdoor winter sportswear. Layer up so items can be removed should you become warmer, but it’s important to feel comfortable, and especially at the start of your workout. If you step outside of the door and feel immediately chilled, you’re probably going to cut that workout short, or even turn straight back around before you’ve even started.
Add things like hats, leggings, and gloves to your normal attire. Remember lights and reflective gear are vital too if you’re heading out in the dark.
- Phone a friend
Buddying up is always a good way to stay motivated while exercising, and especially so when it’s cold. Not only will exercising outdoors with a buddy help you feel safer in the dark you’re less likely to back out when you’ve made plans to workout with someone else.
Support one another to reach your fitness goals throughout the winter months. And if you’re really not enjoying your winter workout, at least there’s someone there to help you through!
- Embrace the winter vibe
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Get into the spirit of winter by trying a winter sport. If you don’t have snow and ice near you, or a winter trip planned, there are lots of artificial alternatives around.
Think indoor ski/snowboard slopes – many of which also provide activities like tubing, luge and sledging too. There’s also often an influx of pop-up ice rinks at Christmastime, providing you with the perfect chance to enjoy a festive atmosphere while keeping fit.
- Set goals
Keep yourself on track by goal setting. Write down what you’d like to achieve and by when – whether it’s losing/maintaining weight, strengthening, or being able to exercise for further or longer. Once you’ve written down your goal, keep It somewhere visible. Once it’s in black and white, you’ll be more likely to stick to your regime whatever the weather.
- Change up your routine
Yes, we know it’s an obvious one. But if you’re really adverse to lower temperatures, not to mention wind, rain and snow, it might be time to consider a different form of exercise until spring’s in the air again.
If you’re a fair-weather runner, walker, or cyclist, perhaps winter’s an opportunity to experience these indoors. Think treadmills, exercise bikes, or cross trainers – all widely available in gyms or to purchase for home use.
But it may also be good to change things up completely. Rather than pining for your outdoor activities, embrace some new indoor hobbies – think yoga, dance fitness, or HIIT classes. Classes are widely available at gyms, health and social clubs and halls. And there are lots of free tutorials online or with your existing media subscriptions if you really don’t want to step out of the front door.
Most importantly…don’t stop! The NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, spread across 4 to five days. We see first-hand the difference regular exercise makes to your health and wellbeing. Don’t hesitate to contact us should you want help or advice on the most suitable exercise plan for you.