When the temperature drops, the urge to hibernate sets in, but staying warm doesn’t mean you have to be inactive. Why not warm up by staying in shape with our action plan? Winter Exercise: not one of the first things that springs to mind when we think about the cooler months. Most of us love the idea of curling up inside while the rain drizzles down; tucking into hearty casseroles and curries; snuggling under the covers on a gloomy morning. One of the things that comes along with these pleasant activities is the fact most of us may find we’re carrying a couple of extra kilos, because we have forgotten the importance of winter exercise. You may tell yourself your extra padding is a natural seasonal change, a result of your metabolism slowing as the mercury drops, but we’ve got some bad news – for most of us, it’s simply not true. During winter, not only does our energy and fat intake increase, we also have an increased desire to eat. That’s not so much due to physical hunger; it’s an emotional need we have to feel warm and nourished. The good news is winter exercise not only helps you burn off kilojoules, it also makes you feel less hungry in the long term. It’s a great idea to also start planning your healthy winter diet and work out what you’re going to eat in the winter.
- A Texan study shows training three times a week significantly reduces levels of the hunger hormone leptin, and of course, fit people are less likely to succumb to that other downer – the flu.
- Canadian researchers found people who exercise three times a week significantly increased their immune system’s ability to fight viral and bacterial infections.
But, even when you know you should be exercising, it can still be hard to get yourself moving. When it’s cold and dark outside, you can always find excuses to stay at home. Here are some ways around them. Exercise early When you’ve been working all day, and it’s already dark outside, it’s not easy to drag yourself off to the gym. If you’ve already done your gym class that morning, it doesn’t matter. It can be hard to get out of bed in the morning, but once you’re up, you feel great. If your gym is close to work, you’ll avoid peak hour rush too. Set your alarm an hour earlier and put it at the far side of the room – that way you’ll have to get up to turn it off. Buy a pedometer Aim for 10,000 steps a day. It is a lot, but can be incorporated into your day, and a pedometer can help you keep count. Include some friends Click here for more information on getting active. Team sports are a great way to have fun with friends or make some new ones. Plus, you’re less likely to skip a workout if you know other people are depending on you. Basketball, indoor netball and indoor cricket are all good options. Exercise at home If you really can’t bring yourself to leave your home, give yourself some winter exercise homework. Invest in a yoga or pilates DVD, or even do your gym workout at home. There are many exercises you can do. Try tricep dips on the lounge and push-ups against the wall. If your home has two steps, you can do step-ups. A trainer at your local gym will be able to help you create an at-home routine.