Keeping active during winter

With the mercury dropping and the heavens opening this time of year, many of us tend to hibernate inside our homes with a pair of uggs. But, hibernating is for the bears. As humans it's important to stay active throughout the year. Yet, a poll of 5,000 people found that 30 percent get no exercise at all during the winter months.

Just because it is cold outside doesn't make it open season for an excuse not to exercise. There are a number of options to continue keeping active regardless of the temperature. Depending on your location and likes, you can choose to exercise inside or outside.

If you choose to do your exercise outside then the keep the following tips in mind:

  • Ensure you get warm first. A proper warm-up is critical. Your muscles get tight in cold temperatures and therefore they are more prone to injuries. So, it's super important to get them warmed-up prior to engaging in intense physical activity.
  • Insulate and protect your body. The best approach to dressing for outdoor exercise is with layers. Layering fitness clothing provides the most effective heating method, plus it allows you to remove the top layer if you get too hot. The layer closest to your skin should allow moisture to be wicked away. The top layer should be both wind and water resistant.
  • Avoid sweating. It is not necessary to sweat in order to get a good workout. You want to avoid sweating as it causes the clothing layer closest to your skin to get wet which can make you cold.
  • Keep the layers on when you get indoors. While you may be tempted to immediately remove your layers when returning inside, give your body time to adjust. Post exercise hypothermia is possible. This happens when your body rapidly loses its heating stores.
  • Drink loads of water. It's just as important to stay hydrated when exercising in winter as it is in summer, even though you might not feel as thirsty. Drinking water also fights off colds and flu by flushing the body.
  • Wear reflective gear in the dark. If possible, it's best to exercise outdoors during daylight areas. But, with shorter days and work commitments it is often hard to do. If your only choice is to exercise outdoors when it is dark, wear reflective materials to ensure that you can be seen and make it home safe.

If the thought of getting outside to exercise makes you crank up the electric blanket and press the snooze button, there’s always the option of exercising indoors:

  • Shopping centres aren’t just for shopping. If you don’t have a gym membership put on your trainers and take a walk in your local shopping centre. If you tend to get bored (or tempted by the fashion), invite some friends and start a group This will help you stay accountable to someone other than yourself.
  • Join a gym / health club. For those who can afford it or have a gym close to work or home this is a great option. There are always a large variety of machines available and trainers to ask advice.
  • Create a home gym and get online. You can easily set-up a great workout routine with just a set of dumbbells, an exercise ball and a jump rope. Get online to youtube and find free workout videos for all parts of your body.
  • Incidental exercise. Replace the lift / escalators with the stairs. You can do this is you have stairs near your home or at the office. As little as 20 minutes at a time climbing up and down the stairs for a very intense and efficient workout. See what else you can swap – perhaps walking to work –or even simply walking to the next bus / train station to burn some extra kilojoules.
  • Indoor swimming pools. Find a local indoor pool you can use. Try swimming, water aerobics, or even just walking or running laps in the water.

By staying active during Winter you'll have a head start on swimsuit season, and avoid losing strength and stamina caused from inactivity.