How to Stay Active in Winter, Despite the Cold

As the weather turns cold, wet and possibly even snowy, leaving the comfort of your sofa to head out to the gym can seem like a mighty task – especially when it’s dark outside. But to stay healthy, you need to stay active, whatever the weather.
The Benefits of Year Round Exercise 
Keeping active during the winter isn’t just good for physical health, it helps to keep the immune system strong too [1]. This is particularly important at this time of year due to the amount of coughs, colds and sickness bugs which always go around as the season changes.

Exercise also helps to boost the mood, which can suffer during long, dark, cold days [2]. Happy endorphins flood the body after exercise, and there’s no better feeling than the sense of achievement after a good workout, especially when it’s cold and dreary outside!

So how to resist the urge to hibernate during the winter months, and keep yourself healthy and active? Here’s our top tips…

Make it a routine
Make a plan for the week and stick to it. Just like any other appointment, once it’s in your diary, you’re far more likely to show up. Look at the weather forecast and organise your outdoor runs on the drier or sunnier days, and plan indoor sessions on the worst days. If the whole week is looking bleak, take a deep breath and get on out – you’ll feel so much more empowered afterwards! Failing that, stick to indoor activities such as the gym, or do a class – there’s plenty to choose from in Ealing, such as Tribeca Studios, F45 Training, Triyoga, and more.

Add flexibility
Sticking to the same routine during the winter months is harder due to the shorter days, so adapt your routine. Try fitting in outdoor exercise at lunchtime, rather than after work when it’s dark, or make the most of the weekend with a walk or a cycle out in nature. Local options could include Richmond Park or the Chiltern Hills, which are just an hour away by car from Ealing.

Stay safe
If you’re running or cycling in the dark, make sure you can be seen. Wear reflective clothing and try to exercise in a group or with a friend. If it’s icy or wet, make sure to take things slower than usual. Carry your phone with you in case of any emergencies, but avoid listening to loud music as it can make you less aware of what’s going on around you.

Get the whole family involved
Organise long family walks, rambles or cycles for the weekends, and combine them with the promise of a hot chocolate or pub lunch at the end! Combining exercise with other activities you all enjoy makes it more fun for everyone. Walk to the cinema or book everyone in for an indoor trampolining session at Oxygen Freejumping in Acton – or take advantage of the season and get your skates on at QUEENS ice rink in Bayswater.

Stay warm
Whatever you’re doing, make sure that you wrap up well. If you’re outside, layer up with lightweight, rain-resistant fabrics which you can take off and tie around your waist if you get too warm. Getting cold, especially around the neck and back, can make you more prone to muscle-related injuries. Warming up with some dynamic stretching before heading out will help prepare your muscles and further avoid injury [3].

Work out at home
There are countless apps that can help keep you fit and active indoors, using little or no extra equipment. Try Yoga Wake Up to start your day on the right note with ten minutes of morning stretches, or Freeletics Bodyweight, which uses fitness testing to tailor your workouts, and even provides a mode which will let you work out in a space no more than 2 metres by 2 metres, perfect for those who are short on space.

Whatever activity you choose to do, make sure it’s something you enjoy, and do it consistently. The NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate activity (such as cycling, brisk walking or swimming) or 75 minutes of high intensity activity, (such as running or aerobics), plus at least two sessions of strength exercises every week [4]. By following the tips above, you should be well on your way to keeping your body and mind in great shape throughout the season – and Spring will be here before you know it!

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/11/02/3054621.htm
[2]https://www.bupa.com.au/health-and-wellness/health-information/healthy-living/exercise/reducing-stress/reduce-stress-and-improve-mood
[3] https://www.runnersworld.com/health-injuries/a20809473/five-exercises-to-do-before-every-run/
[4] https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/#guidelines-for-adults-aged-19-to-64

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