It’s officially winter. Staying active and keeping a regular exercise routine over winter is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself. Not only will it ensure that you keep your health and wellness goals on track but you will continue to reap the many benefits of regular exercise – benefits that will decline or be lost without the continuation of your regular exercise routine over the winter months.
Regular exercise helps to protect against obesity, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. If you are living with diabetes it can also help you to manage your blood glucose levels. It boosts energy, aids digestion, improves sleep and feeling of mental and emotional wellbeing as well as promoting productivity in the workplace, home life and general day to day activities. Exercise protects against osteoporosis and fractures and it helps build endurance, strengthen muscles, and increase flexibility and joints function ensuring they move more smoothly with less pain or discomfort.
That said, and with all good intentions aside, many of us find it increasingly difficult to maintain that routine during the winter months. We tend to hibernate and stay inside more than we do during the warmer months, eating more, moving less and expending far less energy.
Pulling up the duvet cover and hitting the snooze button can seem like a superior choice on a cold, wet and dark winters morning. Dragging yourself out of a warm and cosy bed to exercise isn’t particularly appealing and many of us lack the motivation needed to dig deep and get moving like we know we should – the struggle is real.
However, it’s time for a reality check. Exercise is just indisputably good for you – both for physical and mental wellbeing. Throw off the covers, shake off those winter cobwebs and head outside for some physical activity and exercise that will revitalise your body and mind. Make exercise and physical activity a non-negotiable in your life.
Truth be acknowledged, there is only good to be said about exercise – even if it is cold and wet outside. Exercise will make you feel invigorated, reaffirm your motivation and it is paramount to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. With all the benefits that exercise offers, don’t let good habits and hard work wane over winter. Put on your trainers, grab a water bottle and get moving.
Here are our winter work out tips to keep moving and motivated during winter:
- Drink plenty of water – even if you don’t feel thirsty. You are still losing fluids through sweat and breathing in the cooler winter temperatures. Don’t leave home without a bottle of water and sip from it regularly before, during and after physical activity and exercise.
- Whether you’re planning to exercise indoors or heading out int the cold, warming up before exercise is even more important in winter. Give yourself a few extra minutes to warm up your body and muscles and to get the heart and lungs going. Start slow and gradually increase the intensity.
- Warming up prepares our body for exercise, can help prevent injury and help alleviate stiffness that can lead to muscle sprains and strains. And don’t forget to warm down at the end.
Clothes – dress for success
- Wear the right clothes to exercise in. If you’re dressed to be warm, you are less likely to find an excuse not to go out into the cold.
- Layer up so you have the option to take them off once you’ve warmed up and start to sweat and so that you can put them back on as needed. Layers also help to trap warm air, keeping you nice and cosy.
- Choose the right fabrics and wear synthetic, sweat-wicking clothing as your innermost layer, avoiding cotton underwear or socks – the last thing you want is to work out in sweaty, damp clothes.
- Consider investing in quality water or windproof gear to stave off the elements if you’re very committed to training in all weather.
- Cover your extremities – we lose a lot of heat through our head, fingers and toes, so if it’s very cold outside wear a beanie, gloves and socks to keep the heat in.
Exercise with friends
- If you’re struggling to stay motivated find a friend to workout with or exercise in a group to keep you accountable. Make time and put it in your diary like any other appointment or class. It’s much easier to get out of bed and far more motivating if you know you have someone waiting for.
- Make exercise part of your social life – go to an exercise class together or rather than just meet for a coffee– grab that coffee and walk and chat rather than sit and chat.
- Avoid big storms and windy conditions – agree when you should call it off and for your own safety, reschedule or workout at home or at the gym instead.
- Winter weather can be challenging and unpredictable so don’t let the wet weather be an excuse not to move. Rather than snuggling up on the sofa with Netflix, try working out to Netflix instead – keep some weights by the TV for resistance/strength training.
Mix up your routine and have a backup plan
- Keep the exercise habit, just change the routine. Try something different, switch up your usual routine and find an alternative without forgoing your exercise all together. Not only does a change stave off boredom, keep you motivated and avoids plateaus, but it can up your metabolism, will exercise different muscles and also help you to manage your blood glucose levels – a win all around.
Winter Workout Alternatives
- Swap morning exercise for lunchtime walks or classes when it is daylight and warmer
- Make the most of your weekends and daylight hours by heading out for a long bushwalks or bike rides – activities which are often too hot to do in the summer months
- Join a gym – a 24/7 all-weather workout option, with classes, cardio, strength.
- Swim at a local heated pool – swimming and aqua aerobics provide a whole-body workout.
- Experiment and try a new exercise class – something you’ve been thinking about for ages but never got around to it. Zumba, Xtend Barre, yoga, Pilates, belly dancing, or ball room dancing.
- Play an indoor team sport – netball, cricket, hockey, basketball, soccer. The choices are endless and available for all age groups and fitness levels, for men, women or mixed teams. It’s social, will keep you motivated and accountable and isn’t weather dependent.
- Exercise at home – expensive equipment is not necessary. Use the stairs, play with the kids, do workouts via YouTube or DVD, exercise while you watch TV during the advertisement breaks or create a home circuit for squats, lunges, planks, star jumps, burpees and so on. COVID-19 bought us a plethora of home workout options and downloads from celebrities and athletes – choose your favourite or try them all.
As a final thought, don’t let the winter months get the better of you – stay motivated and committed. It is rare for anyone to regret exercising – much more likely to that they will regret NOT exercising.
Make exercise and physical activity a non-negotiable regardless of the season. Instead of curling up on the sofa in front of the fire and TV, get up, get moving and keep physically active – you’ll feel so much better for it.
If you’re not sure where to start or if you are struggling to get motivated, consider speaking to an accredited exercise physiologist. They can help to set realistic goals; keep you motivated and develop an exercise program that is safe and effective and tailored specifically to your requirements.
Alternatively, why not register for one of our upcoming Ready Set Go Let’s Move Exercise Workshops, where you will come away motivated and with a personalised exercise plan.
For more information please call the Diabetes WA Helpline on 1300 001 880.