Written by: Cally Worden
Winter is a time when small furry animals hibernate and gloomy, cold days make us humans feel like doing the same. It is time when bugs are rife and no amount of closing the front door and hiding under the duvet will keep them at bay. Keeping fit and healthy is just as important in winter as it is throughout the year. But blimey, it’s a bit of a challenge isn’t it!
Motivation is Key
If you despise exercise when the sun is shining then the first sniff of a winter chill is going to send you straight to the sofa. Not good. It’s important to find a motivational goal if you are to remain dedicated to movement in the winter months. In summer this is simple, with the beach-body an ideal target. Keeping motivated in winter may require a little more creativity and perhaps a teensy incentive. A gorgeous LBD (Little Black Dress) for the works Christmas ‘Do’ can be yours if only you can get into shape. That skiing holiday in February will be so much more fun in you can achieve a few runs without collapsing in a heap of fatigue and muscle strain. Find your own personal goal and leave post-its around the house to remind you of it when you’re ready to slope of to the couch.
Make it Easy
Anything that takes effort to arrange can scupper the best laid exercise plans when your heart’s not really in it. So leave your gym bag packed and ready by the door, your running shoes warmed in the airing cupboard and your gloves and hi-viz strap ready in your cycling helmet. Help yourself, basically, and you’ll find kick-starting your exercise far less effort.
Keep it Varied
When it’s cold and dark outside, there are many reasons you can find for not taking a run – you may even start gloomily counting up the number of runs you’ll have to endure until the clocks go forward in Spring – enough to put anyone off. If this kind of thought process is your MO, try instead to vary your fitness regimes through winter so you have something to look forward to.
Plan an attack on cardio activities in December, strength training through January and yoga or Pilates for February. Or vary your sport from one week to the next. Running, swimming, cycling, DVDs in the front room, Wii-Fit, whatever takes your fancy. Just make sure you do something instead of nothing.
It’s about Health as well and Fitness
It’s a fact that the incidences of heart attacks rocket in the winter months, largely due to the fact that even sedate activities get put on the back burner and the body goes into a false hibernation that does it no favours at all. Walking to the local shops, pottering about in the garden, taking the kids to the park – all these little things we do in warmer months help to keep us fit. In winter we need to find alternatives to keep giving our bodies what we need.
The added benefit of exercise is the endorphin release that boosts our mood. Incidences of depression increase through winter; people become more insular and may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you feel yourself slipping into a black mood more often in winter, it’s time to get moving.
Find Something you Enjoy
It’s taken me 42 years, but I’ve finally alighted on an form of exercise I really enjoy – cycling. I’ve tried:
- jogging, which left me a wobbly mass of sweat and feeling like my lungs were going to explode;
- swimming, which I do enjoy but gave me earache and regular sniffles;
- the gym – no, just no, this is not for me;
- aerobics/zumba/any fad that requires moving to music – I discovered I have no co-ordination AT ALL and looked like a bad dancer at a wedding after too many glasses of champagne
But climb on a bike and I feel free, energised and actually LOOK FORWARD to my regular rides. I even got up early on a Sunday to fit one in the other week. Giving up duvet-time for exercise is unprecedented in my world. I feel a bit evangelical about it all to be honest, so I’ll shut up now – but suffice it to say as way of making a point for this article – find a form of exercise you enjoy and it doesn’t matter if the weather outside is frightful – you will feel delightful and the winter will pass in a happy blur of good health that leaves you fit to hit the New Year with a definite Spring in your step.