A number of challenges occur as we move into the colder months and if we don’t plan well and stay disciplined, it’s easy to lose health and fitness over the winter months. It is important to keep motivated to stay generally fit and healthy in the winter regardless of age or fitness level and if you are into a specific sport, it is also important to stay sport-fit.
Common hurdles to achieving your health and fitness goals in the winter
- Being more prone to colds during the change of season and colder months – as the weather becomes cooler, our immune systems have to adapt to the conditions and often a significant challenge of the winter months can be catching colds or the flu.
- Less sunlight – over the winter months, the sun rises later and sets earlier. This often means we need to get up when it’s still dark or exercise after work when the sun has already set. The safety of exercise in the dark can be one concern, but also less hours of sunshine can have some further negative effects on our health. Exposure to sunshine has a number of positive effects, most importantly, boosting vitamin D levels and enhancing mood/mental health and energy through endorphin release. This has huge benefits for the heart, skin, and immunity too.
- Harder to get out of bed to exercise – when it’s cold and windy outside, it always takes greater discipline to get out of bed. Mind over matter is certainly and consistently required to get up out of bed!
- Cooler muscles – Exercising in cooler weather generally means you don’t get as hot. However, it makes it even more important to warm up and cool down properly before and after exercise. Cold muscles can be more prone to sustain strains if not warmed up properly.
Ways to stay motivated this winter
- Set Goals. Be clear on what you are wanting to achieve over the next few months. Whether it’s to lift heavier weights, run further, walk for longer or be able to touch your toes. Even to sit to stand without using your hands, play with grandchildren, walk the dog further, or feel healthier. Starting with goals in mind, you are more likely to succeed.
- Secondly, try and have both indoor and outdoor variations such as gym options, swimming pool or even an online work out at home. Find something you enjoy and you will be more likely to stick to it.
- Working out with a partner or in a group setting has been shown to have better outcomes in terms of performance and enjoyment. Not to mention boosting your motivation, particularly if you know your friend is there waiting for you! Even things like swapping a coffee meet for a walk or an exercise class will be beneficial.
- Make time – be deliberate in scheduling exercise and fitting it in, even when you are busy. Once you write it down in your calendar, it becomes part of your routine for the day, and this can help you achieve your fitness goal. Don’t let lack of time get you down – even when your schedule is busy, remind yourself exercise does not have to take long, as long as it is regular.
- Change Daily Habits – To encourage more activity during the day even if it is just one. For example, park car further away from shop or your home so that you have to walk further. Running or walking up and down the stairs in your house can be a great high intensity cardio and leg workout. Try climbing two steps at a time, sprinting a few flights or doing jumping jacks between floors to raise the intensity. Even simple things like buttock squeezes or standing on one leg when you brush your teeth.
Our physiotherapists at Home Physio Group can offer expert physiotherapy assessment and treatment for any niggling injuries that are preventing you from getting into activity.
We can also help with exercise and rehab and if you want to get in shape or maintain your physical health and fitness this winter, our physiotherapists can help you develop a specific, individualised physical activity plan to keep you fit and healthy this autumn and winter.
Happy exercising and performing at your physical best this winter!
For more information please contact us on 0330 335 1016 or alternatively please fill out our contact sheet and we will get back to you.