When it’s grey and gloomy outside and the days are short, it can be hard to motivate yourself to get up and exercise. In the lead up to Christmas, we’re also more likely to eat more of the less healthy options. Between mulled wine, mince pies and lack of exposure to sunlight, it’s easy to gain weight and feel sluggish. So, with that in mind. here are some top tips on how to stay active this winter.
Brave the weather
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; once you are out there, you might even find you enjoy it! Sometimes, there’s nothing more magical and nostalgic than those chilly but crisp winter days.
Cold conditions give a boost to the conversion of white fat cells to brown, which burn energy to keep us warm. Outdoor exercise increases exposure to daylight and Vitamin D, helping to increase endorphins and improving both your mood and bone strength.
If the weather really is appalling – and let’s face it, much of the British winter tends towards this term – try an exercise DVD or simply climbing and descending the stairs repeatedly. Anything that gets the heart pumping indoors is better than wallowing around in inactivity-induced self pity.
Gyms often have tempting trials or short term deals, and many council gyms are now high spec and reasonably priced. The price of exercising indoors is an investment in your long term health that’s worth paying.
Ditch the excuses
Modern life is busy, with work and family often rightly taking priority. It’s easy to think you’ve got too much on your plate to make time for yourself. Studies however show we are more efficient at work if we make time for exercise, whilst sufficient head space benefits thoughtfulness and prioritising. Exercise makes you healthier and happier, improves concentration and increases energy levels, making it both a no-brainer and very much a brain helper.
It can be hard to get going on your own, so enlist the help of a friend in sharing your exercise goals. Going for a walk with a partner, friend or family makes it more pleasant, and meeting up with someone helps make sure you stay committed. It’s a great way to make new acquaintances and catch up with old ones at this social time of year.
Set goals and monitor yourself
You are more likely to be successful in maintaining weight or losing a few pounds if you have a set goal and keep on top of tracking your progress. You can do this manually or use technology to help. Activity can be monitored by a wearable device to record how many steps you take, how much ground you cover and even how much sleep you have. Most health bodies recommend 10 000 steps a day for a healthy body. You might be surprised by how little or how much you do, and how much small things like using the stairs, a 10 minute walk at lunchtime or walking the kids to school can have an impact. You can also use apps to map your activity and distance covered in a walk or run; evaluating your progress regularly can be really motivating.