7 tips to stay active in winter

Sport and fitness concept on bleached wooden planks background

Finding the motivation to exercise is hard at the best of times, when the sun is shining and the skies are blue. But as winter arrives, with its dark mornings, short days and cold, wet nights it’s almost impossible to drag ourselves out of our warm, comfy beds to move our bodies. But, of course, we all know it’s especially important to keep active during the colder months, to keep our immune systems healthy, our bodies strong and our minds calm. In doing so, we will find it easier to ward off colds, boost our mood and feel our best until the sun starts to shine again.

Here are our top tips for finding the motivation to move this winter:

Stay indoors

Seems a little counterproductive, doesn’t it? Not if you find yourself a little area in your house/ flat where you can work out without having to leave the house. All you need is a small space on your floor and a workout to follow. You can try YouTube for HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or yoga videos, a fitness DVD or a workout app. The possibilities are endless. You could even just put on some old favourite tunes and have a little dance in your room… no one’s watching! You can find equipment such as yoga mats, small weights, skipping ropes and resistance bands for very good prices online. Otherwise just use your body weight (and maybe a few cans of baked beans!).

Try something new

It is so easy to get stuck in a rut. Going to the gym and doing the same thing every time is not only going to make you completely bored but it might mean that you plateau in terms of progress as your body gets used to the same routine. If you want to see changes you need to challenge yourself… who else remembers the saying ‘no pain no gain’?! If you are a member of a gym, investigate the range of classes on offer and challenge yourself to try a new one each week. Classes such as boxing, spinning and HIIT can seem daunting but you might discover a new passion and even meet new people who can then become motivational gym buddies. If you prefer to stay in the gym, try some of the machines that you usually ignore. It’s good to mix up steady cardio with weight training to burn fat and tone up. Girls, do not be scared that using these machines will suddenly make you ‘bulky’. They won’t!

For those who are not a member of a gym at all, there are still endless options. If you usually run, try power walking or cycling. You might find you can go for longer and appreciate your surroundings a little more.

Buy new gear

It might sound silly, but treating yourself to some new leggings or a fancy water bottle might spur you on! If you tend to work out in old gym kit that’s lost its stretch and now more closely resembles pyjamas, there’s no surprise that you’d rather hide inside. You also need to think more carefully about what you are wearing to work out if you will be outside. Layers, waterproofs, hats and gloves are all essential.

In fact, one piece of kit that is really worth investing in and updating is running shoes. Running in unsuitable trainers can be damaging to your body. Running is a high impact activity and you need the correct support for your feet and knees. Go to a running shop, where they will ask you to run on a treadmill for a few minutes (this isn’t as embarrassing as it sounds) so that they can watch how you run and therefore determine the type of shoe best suited to you. Remember to ask them about water resistant shoes if you will be running in the wet or in snow. And when you find the right pair it will make all the difference to your workout. You’ll be bounding out the door in no time.

Wrap up and walk

People underestimate the effectiveness of a good walk. Not only is it a great workout but it can be incredibly relaxing and a good way to clear your head. I know it’s chilly and might seem more welcoming to stay on the sofa, but layer up, grab a warm cup of tea to go and head to your nearest park. Going with a friend or your dog is a sure fire way to have fun but if you find yourself walking solo, do not despair. It’s nice to pay attention to nature around you but if you find yourself getting a bit bored, try listening to a podcast or audiobook. Before you know it you’ll have been walking for 45 minutes and be half way through a great book!

Two words…hot yoga

Yes, heading out into the cold to go jogging might not be the most tempting idea, but yoga in a heated room? That we can get on board with. Not only is it great for stretching those muscles and improving your posture but you will leave feeling calm, relaxed and probably ready for a well-deserved long sleep as some of the more intense classes can really take it out of you!

Be adventurous

If you live near the mountains or an ice rink, have a go at some wintery sports. Skiing, snowboarding and ice skating are all great at getting the heartrate up. Failing that, head to your nearest park and just have a play around in the snow. Have a snowball fight, make a few snow angels, basically pretend you’re 8 again. Doesn’t get much more fun than that does it?

Remember to rest

While staying active is important, we cannot forget the importance of rest, especially during these gruelling cold months. Try to listen to your body. If you’re feeling exhausted don’t push yourself to go to the gym. Go home, relax and have some ‘me time’. By taking days off, which are vital for your body and to allow your muscles to recover after more strenuous workouts, you will feel more motivated the next day to get back to it and likely perform better rather than just going through the motions because you feel like you have to.