Ideal for those keen to keep fit in fresh air.
We’re set for a Winter largely spent indoors, if official predictions and projections are anything to go by. Seeing as gyms and fitness centres were some of the last businesses to reopen at the end of July following the first lockdown in Spring, common sense suggests that, since they are currently shut again until the end of November, we might be waiting a while to enter one again.
All is not lost for fitness fanatics. Exercise outdoors is one of the few reasons to actually venture outside currently, and that fresh hit of crisp, cold air can do wonders for the soul, don’t you think? With that in mind and to make things as comfortable as possible, here are 5 tips for exercising outdoors this winter, IDEAL for those keen to keep fit in fresh air.
GO ON A WINTER WALK, HIKE OR BIKERIDE
Fortunately, for the time being, Government guidelines permit you to drive somewhere for the purposes of exercise. Rallying the troops (from your household, of course) or going at it alone for a Winter hike gives you the chance to take in some local scenery, spend quality time with your family, burn off some lockdown calories and have an exciting day that costs next to nothing,
Living in the UK, we’re lucky enough to have an abundance of beautiful rural locations, charming towns and coastal paths that are all worth exploring. That said, we all know the weather can be inclement, to put it mildly. Best be prepared, then, with a thermal mug, hand warmers, and more…
BE PREPARED FOR LOW TEMPERATURES
Scandinavians say that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. And who should we listen to if not the Scandinavians when it comes to cold weather advice?
Rest assured that the cold weather shouldn’t get in the way of your usual outdoor exercise routine. The only rule is to make sure you’re prepared for low temperatures; after all, you’re looking to keep fit, not get sick.
To keep warm in cold weather, follow these two rules:
Use appropriate winter attire
Focus mostly on protecting your extremities, i.e., those parts of your body that stick out. A hat, gloves, and warm socks are essential to protect your sensitive body parts. However, if you still get cold while outside, there are many other accessories that will further improve your comfort, for instance, professional thermal clothing. Water-resistant/waterproof gym wear is also a good idea when exercising outside in Winter.
Typically, it’s recommended that you layer up to keep the heat close to your body; the more layers, the bigger chance you will stay warm for longer. However, make sure never to put cotton fabric as your first layer; wetness created by sweat takes the warmth out of the body and can cause chaffing. Thus, use a material that you won’t sweat through for the base; natural fibres like 100% cotton, or even hemp, are best.
CONSIDER A WINTER SPORT
When lockdown lifts, consider getting into a socially distanced or solo Winter sport to bring some intrigue and excitement to what can sometimes feel like a tired routine. Cross country on frosty ground, ice fishing, or ice skating are just a few ideas, or if you live close to snowy climes (or an airport!) then why not hit the slopes and give skiing or snowboarding a go?
EQUIP YOURSELF IN THE RIGHT MINDSET
It’s easy to fall into the trap of not doing anything when cold and rainy outside, committing yourself to the sofa and hibernating until Spring. Indeed, when it’s grey, gloomy and the days are short, it can be hard to motivate yourself to get up and exercise.
Remember, it’s natural – human, even – to feel this way; the reduction in hours of sunlight can hamper our motivation. The National Institute of Mental Health (via Bustle) reported that ‘’sunlight affects your internal clock, or your circadian rhythm…which can change the serotonin levels in your brain’.
‘Changes in your serotonin levels can result in all kinds of symptoms…some of which include low energy, losing interest in activities you used to enjoy, feeling sluggish, and feeling the urge to hibernate. So getting less sunlight can actually make you feel tired and lazy’’.
Fortunately, there are tools available to you which can help you tackle this tendency towards Winter low mood and its effects on motivation. Check out our tips on how to beat the Winter blues for more!
If the weather really is appalling – and let’s face it, much of the British Winter tends towards this term – then there’s no shame in leaving the running shoes on the rack and instead exercising indoors.
Doing so needn’t cost you a fortune in new equipment; there are hundreds of exercise routines available on YouTube which don’t require any ‘stuff’, just your motivated self and a bit of floor space. Or, simply climbing and descending the stairs repeatedly can help you work up a sweat.
Don’t use the cold weather outside as an excuse not to exercise at all. Anything that gets the heart pumping indoors is better than wallowing around in inactivity and sorrow.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It’s easy to be put off by the blustering winds and biting cold, but getting out there is all in the preparation and attitude. Wrap up warmly and wear decent footwear, a hat and gloves, those extra layers we mentioned…once you’ve made the effort, you might even find you enjoy it! And remember, outdoor exercise increases exposure to daylight and Vitamin D, which is much needed, now more than ever. Good luck and we’ll see you for a few laps of the park tomorrow.
If you’re looking for more motivation, check out our article on 5 IDEAL ways to help you become a morning exerciser!