Over the home gym? Bored of walking? It’s easier than you think to revive your exercise mojo as the weather turns. Here’s how to boost your winter workout…
10 Ways to boost your winter workout:
Let’s be honest – unless you’re ultra-passionate about exercise and find running a marathon a doddle, then the idea of going outside to get your blood pumping when the weather is miserable is not very tempting. But you don’t have to slip out of the exercise habit as the seasons change –
especially as staying active through autumn and winter is one of the best things you can do for your long-term health. Hate the idea of going out in the chill to feel the burn? All you need are a few tricks that the experts swear by.
1. INVEST IN THE RIGHT GEAR
‘Think thin, fitted layers rather than big and bulky,’ says WalkActive founder Joanna Hall. Try a T-shirt base layer in a technical fabric that draws sweat away from your body, then a lightweight long-sleeved layer, she says. Over that, wear a fitted technical fabric jacket and, if it’s really cold, add a sleeveless fl eece gilet. Stretchy exercise trousers are ideal, and try two pairs of bamboo socks, rather than one thick pair.
2. DON’T DITCH THE WARM-UP
‘Cold weather causes your muscles to contract and be less elastic, which can increase the risk of injury when you exercise,’ says personal trainer Chris Ward. ‘During the winter months, it’s more important to do a good warm-up routine before exercising, so you reduce the risk of tears and injuries.’ Stretch for at least five minutes before and afterwards.
3. SWITCH UP YOUR SONGS
Music can help distract you while getting your sweat on but, for an even bigger boost, choose songs that have 125–140 beats per minute(bpm). ‘Scientists have discovered that the addition of a strong, rhythmic beat, such as a fast-paced musical track, could inspire people to pick up the pace,’ says relationship and mind coach Ansar Ali. Plus, you’ll start linking them with good memories next time. ‘They’ll trigger happy memories associated with feeling calm, good and focused,’ says Ansar.
4. HAVE A DESTINATION
When you’re heading out into the cold, knowing you’ll end up somewhere warm can be a game changer for you. ‘A bike ride to your favourite bakery or coffee shop is a classic for a reason,’ says Hilary Rowland, co-founder of Boom Cycle. ‘It can become a tradition and then the exercise is just a part of your enjoyment of the process.’ Just don’t completely derail the diet when you’re there!
5. KEEP HYDRATED
The chilly weather makes it easy to overlook the importance of staying hydrated – it’s important if you are exercising for more than 30 minutes. Drink water or a sugar-free isotonic drink – around 500 ml an hour is a good guide.
6. MAKE IT SOCIAL
Stay focused with a pal. ‘A workout class or even a walk with a friend is a great way to keep your exercise regular and reap all the benefits of a social connection too,’ says Hilary. ‘You’re less likely to cancel because you don’t want to let your friend down and vice versa.’
7. BOOK A SMARTER HOLIDAY
While heading off on a break may seem like Russian roulette right now, if you’re going ahead, make it an active one, such as skiing. Not only will you be breathing in fresh air, six hours of skiing a day will mean you’re burning 3 000 calories. You’ll also tone up (and strengthen
your core), boost your immunity, and you could lose around 2 kg in a week.
8. REDUCE DECISIONS
Do you want to exercise first thing in the morning? Then get your workout clothes ready the night before. By making fewer decisions throughout the day, you’ll be able to keep your willpower high in the moments when you need it the most – such as getting out of a warm bed for a cold morning walk. Yoga and Pilates are good fi rst thing, as they also help with your energy levels.
9. ACCLIMATISE AS EARLY AS YOU CAN
It’s going to be cold from now until at least September – so don’t put off your exercise plan, or you’ll get out of the habit. If you’ve never worked out in the cold before and you start in May, it’ll be a big shock to the system and the chances are you won’t do it again. Start now. When the weather takes a downturn and it gets darker earlier, you could consider doing
10. SWITCH YOUR SPORT
Stay inside, but still reap the benefits with these clever exercise swaps:
✣ Tennis for badminton: Your improved coordination and agility may well benefit
your tennis game too.
✣ Swimming for indoor rowing: Diving into a pool can become less enticing as the temperature drops. Using an indoor rowing machine will give a great workout, combining strength and cardiovascular fitness, similar to swimming.
✣ Walking for yoga: There’s nothing like an autumn stroll when it’s dry. If it’s pouring, try a yoga class instead. The meditative benefits are similar to that of a relaxing walk, and your posture, flexibility and breathing will all improve.