When the nights draw in, the motivation to exercise can also diminish, with the warm fire and the sofa looking like the more attractive proposition. But maintaining an active lifestyle during the winter is important for both your physical and mental health, boosting your energy, maintaining fitness and helping to ward off any ‘winter blues’.
So, don’t let those cold days dampen your exercise regime with our four top tips for staying active this winter.
1. Wear the right gear
If you are exercising or spending time outdoors during the winter, you need to have the right clothes to keep you comfortable, dry, and warm. And that means outer clothes that provide waterproof protection as well as inner clothes that work to wick moisture away from your body. Also opt for the layering approach for adequate insulation which also gives you the choice to take off a layer if you are getting too warm. Avoid cotton but choose synthetic fibres such as polyester and nylon for the best cold weather active gear.
2. Keep fuelled
Maintaining a healthy eating plan throughout the winter months will ensure you are sufficiently fuelled to keep active, whatever the weather. And a diet balanced with all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals you need can also support your immune system and overall health.
If you do feel your energy levels are flagging or winter lethargy is stopping you from being as active as you want to be, you could also consider taking extra vitamins and minerals, including iron tablets to help combat tiredness and fatigue (EFSA, 2010).
And don’t forget to ensure you are sufficiently hydrated, even if you don’t feel thirsty, as you will still be losing fluids through sweat and breathing as you exercise, despite the lower winter temperatures.
3. Make the most of the daylight hours
Wherever possible, spend some time each day outside, whether that’s exercising or taking a simple stroll. Daylight hours are shortened during the winter so try to be active when it is still light outside. Spending time in daylight is good not just for your physical health but also your mental wellbeing.
The sunshine vitamin, vitamin D, is needed for healthy bones, muscle and nerves as well as your immune system (EFSA, 2010). Spending just 15-20 minutes outside can help your body to stock up on its supplies. And time outdoors being active each day can really help to boost and maintain your mood and lower blood pressure, helping to reduce anxiety, mental fatigue, and stress.
4. Exercise with others
When it is getting dark outside, or the weather isn’t being particularly kind, the motivation to exercise can be a challenge to muster. So, our final tip to staying active this winter is to enlist the help of others. Exercising or spending time outside is much more fun when you have someone to enjoy it with. While it may be tempting to call time if you plan to exercise alone, you are less likely to break an exercise ‘date’ with someone else and risk letting them down.