Even the most committed athlete can find it harder to get off the couch and exercise during the winter months. The temptation to hibernate indoors, bask in the central heating and eat carb-heavy casseroles is almost overwhelming, but it’s just as important to get outside and get moving during the winter months as the warmer ones.
Beat the blues
When the bad weather is giving you a case of the SADs, exercise can produce an instant boost to your mood. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which trigger a feeling of positivity – that’s why it’s called the ‘runner’s high’. Exercising outside will also increase your levels of vitamin D.
Exercise can also help you weather the cold and flu season as it boosts your immune system and improves your lymphatic and cardiovascular circulation.
Regular winter workouts will also make you less likely to incur injury than those that throw themselves into rigorous exercise come spring. If you’ve piled on the pounds over the winter this will put more strain on your joints, the knees in particular, so maintenance of both a healthy weight and ongoing exercise routine is always preferable.
Consultant orthopaedic surgeon and sports injury expert Mr Jonathan Webb gives some tips on how to keep exercising this winter:
- Take it indoors; swimming at your local leisure centre or gym can be a fantastic winter workout, as it exercises your whole body and improves the function of your hearts and lungs.
- Join a group; whether it is a class at your local gym or a running group, exercising with others can turn an unpleasant chore into fun and you’ll push yourself harder.
- Take up a seasonal sport; embrace the cold and try skiing, snowboarding or ice skating, whether on holiday or at one of the indoor ski slopes in the UK.
- Keep hydrated; you might not feel the need to replenish liquids as often as you do when exercising in the summer, but the body needs fluid levels to be maintained in the winter as well.
- Stay safe; avoiding injury is a must all year round and there’s some important rules to remember when exercising during the winter months. Muscles and the connective tissues are less elastic when cold and therefore more prone to tearing and incurring injury so always do a short warm-up before embarking on a workout. Be extra aware of your surroundings, particularly icy patches or slippery surfaces.