When the temperature plummets, many of us tend to hibernate. However, cold weather is no excuse not to stay active. Exercise and nutrition scientist Kathleen Alleaume reveals how to keep your fitness momentum high during the chilly months.
Despite the fewer hours of daylight and the desire to hibernate under the doona until spring, there are a lot of ways to keep your fitness routine on track during winter.
The two biggest challenges associated with exercising when it’s cold are finding a place to train – either outdoors, indoors or at home – and finding the motivation to stay active.
Staying active during winter is one of the best ways to keep any weight gain at bay, so instead of abandoning your usual exercise regime, consider these cold weather options:
Some gyms may let you negotiate a seasonal gym membership (three or six months, or month-to-month memberships). It may be just the ticket to staying active throughout the colder months without too much expense. Most gyms offer a range of cardio and weights classes, as well as the services of professional trainers who can design a program to meet your health and fitness goals. Jump online to find gyms in your local area.
Many local swimming pools are heated during the winter – or you could visit an indoor pool instead. If swimming laps is not for you, try an aquarobics class. Training in water has a low risk of injury, is easier on your joints, offers more resistance than regular aerobics and is a great way to add variety and cardiovascular conditioning to your regular workout regime.
There are loads of fun indoor activities, such as basketball, volleyball, cricket, squash, soccer and indoor rock climbing to try. If you fancy a challenge, see if any competitions are scheduled in your local area. Recruit a buddy so you can train for together.
Activities such as Pilates and yoga are often available at community centres, gyms and studios. These activities are great for improving strength, flexibility and balance and can help you relax at the same time.
Exercising in the comfort of your home has numerous advantages, such as not having to worry about the weather, travel or finding a baby-sitter. It’s also a good way to stay warm without running up the heating bill. Simply find a time that suits your schedule – even if it’s only 20 minutes per day, you will still reap the benefits.
This heart-pumping activity is a great cardio workout and burns fat fast. All you need is a skipping rope and a large, open area, like the garage or lounge room.
If you are recovering from an injury, this fabulous piece of equipment is for you. Resistance bands are not only great for rehabilitation, they’re ideal for strength training, which is essential for building lean muscle and boosts your metabolism to burn fat faster. Use them in place of weights for any number of exercises, such as bicep curls. For under $50, resistance bands are portable and take up little space.
Fitness DVDs or games
There are countless fitness DVDs ranging from aerobics to stretching and strengthening exercises. You can also try video game systems, like Wii Fit, that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Once you’ve built up a small collection, you can vary your workouts based on your mood and energy level.
Take it outside
For those who wish to brave the outdoors, regardless of the thermometer reading, remember to wear appropriate clothing. Whether you’re up for a brisk walk, light jog or a bike ride, wear plenty of light layers so you can gradually peel them off as you warm up – multiple lightweight layers trap more body heat than one bulky layer. Also be sure to wear shoes with deep traction to prevent slipping on wet roads or grass.
Finally, find a workout buddy who will help keep you motivated – it’s a lot easier to roll out of bed and into the cold when you have a friend waiting for you.
Stretch and warm up your muscles first, since cold temperatures make your body less flexible and more prone to injuries. Always seek advice from a health professional before starting an exercise program.