The wet and cold of winter can take all the joy out of exercising. The solution – don't leave the house.
There's a lot you can do to either get in shape, or stay that way, without leaving your house.
This 30-minute workout has been designed to suit anyone – even if you're just starting out. For maximum results it combines both cardio (star jumps and step-ups) and strength training (push-ups and squats). A 2001 US study found that this combination will help you get fitter faster – when both were combined, total fitness was enhanced by as much as 21% for strength and 11% for endurance above that achieved doing cardio training alone.
The goal of the workout is to elevate your heart rate with 30- to 60-second bouts of cardio between each set of strength exercises. So get moving!
Easy 8-step circuit class
1. Warm-up (7 mins)
For 5 to 10 minutes, do gentle exercises that warm up your whole body. Run, skip, dance.
2. Strength: Legs (3 x 1 min)
Squat with calf raise: With your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands across your chest, slowly bend at the hips and lower you bottom backwards as if you were going to sit on a chair. When you get to no lower than 90 degrees, pull yourself back up to a standing position. Once back to the starting position, slowly bring yourself up onto your toes. Only go has high as you can, then lower yourself back down so that your feet are flat on the floor. Complete 3 sets of 15 reps.
What it works: quadriceps, gluteals, hamstrings and calves.
3. Cardio: Boxing (3 x 1 min)
Make like a boxer and punch the air. Complete rounds of 1 to 10, then count back from 10 to 1, eg. 1..., 1,2... 1,2,3... 1,2,3,4... and so on to 10, and back down again. Complete 3 times in between sets of exercise 2.
4. Strength: Chest (3 x 1 min)
Push-ups: Lie on your stomach with palms on the floor slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Knees should be on the floor, slightly bent and your ankles crossed. Straighten your arms as you push your body up off the floor. Keep your abs flexed to prevent your back from sagging. Do not lock your elbows at the top. Slowly lower your chest to the ground and when your elbows form a 90-degree angle, your chest should not be touching the ground. Straighten your arms as you push yourself up. Complete 3 sets of 12 repetitions.
What it works: chest, shoulders and triceps.
5. Cardio: Step-ups (3 x 1 min)
On a stair or wooden box, step up 25 times as fast as you can on the right foot and then repeat with your left leading. Do this between the sets of exercise 3.
6. Strength: Stomach (5 mins)
Crunches: Lie on your back with your knees bent and hands across your chest. Using your abs, slowly raise your body up while pushing your lower back into the floor. Come up to a 45-degree angle and hold for a second, before lowering yourself back down to the starting position. Complete 3 sets of 20. If you have a fitball, perform the crunches on it. Feet should be shoulder-width apart on the floor, shoulders resting on the ball and hands across your chest. Curl up the same way as you would on the floor.
What it works: abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis, and internal and external obliques).
7. Cardio: Star jumps (3 x 1 min)
Star jumps: Get back to your primary school days with a few star jumps. Start with your feet together and your arms by your side. Jump your feet apart while you bring your arms above your head, then jump back to your starting position. Complete 30 times in between each set of sit-ups.
8. Strength: Back (3 x 1 min)
Alternate arm and leg raises: Kneel on your hands and knees on a towel or a mat. Slowly straighten your left leg and your right arm as you lift them to be parallel with the floor. Lower back to the starting position and do the same with the opposite leg and arm. That's one repetition. Complete three sets of 12. Rest for 30 seconds in between.
What it works: lower back.
6 great ways to keep fit during winter
Go shopping: Enjoy your work-out while window shopping along the way. There are even groups you can join. Do the rounds of the mall or your favourite shopping street and then slow down to buy.
Be a sport: Becoming a member of a sporting team is rewarding in so many ways, but most of all you turn up because you're committed to the team and don't want to let them down. You could play tennis, soccer, baseball or even lawn bowls.
Join up: Find a local gym near you and sign up.
Bushwalking: The cooler weather is perfect for exercising while enjoying the great outdoors. Plan a day or half-day walk and bring your friends or family along. Pick a trail to suit your fitness level – take on steeper trails as you get fitter.
Get in front of the TV: Purchase a couple of great work-out DVDs and exercise in the comfort of your own home.
Lap it up: Find a heated local pool and swim some laps during the winter period. Swimming is a great way to maintain and increase fitness.
Home gym ideas
Keep things simple when you work out at home. You don't want to clutter your home, and keeping things in the cupboard usually means they'll stay there. There are some simple small pieces of equipment that can make things interesting though. For under $50, you can buy a basic fitball, a theraband for resistance exercises and a set of small weights. Other cheap fitness equipment for your home includes a skipping rope, workout DVD, step or box and yoga mat. If you don't have any basic equipment, be creative. Do bicep curls with cans of beans or tomatoes, or lift a few 2-litre water bottles as you squat.
During the cooler months, warming up becomes even more important. Your muscles are cold, tight and more susceptible to injury. To warm up properly, make sure you move all the muscles you plan to use in your workout. Some fun ways to warm up at home include star jumps, skipping (if your ceilings are high enough), dancing or even jumping on a mini trampoline if you have the room. Hallways make good jogging lanes, too.
Don't forget to drink
It's easy to forget about the importance of drinking lots of water during winter, but you still need to keep up your fluid intake so you don't become dehydrated. Stay well-hydrated by drinking water regularly, not just when you begin to feel thirsty.