As we head further into December the days are drawing in and temperatures are dropping. Whilst it’s tempting to snuggle up on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate rather than getting your trainers on, don’t.
Getting outdoors and raising your heartbeat can increase energy levels and decrease tension, frustration and depression – feelings that can intensify during the long winter months.
Regular exercise will make you feel more energetic and your body’s immune system should get stronger, reducing your risk of coughs and colds. Exercising outside in the winter burns more calories than during warmer months and releases more of those feel-good hormones, endorphins.
What are you waiting for?
Let’s get started.
Before any workout it’s vital to warm up. Whether you walk, jog on the spot or even skip, five minutes of activity followed by simple stretches will warm your muscles and help prevent injuries.
Dress for success
You might get hot mid-cycle but if it is really cold outside, you need to be dressed correctly. Go for light layers, breathable socks and if it is freezing wrap a scarf around your nose and mouth to warm the air before you breathe it in. Don’t forget you lose a lot of heat through your head, so wear a hat as it will make a big difference.
Get your route right
Whether you are cycling, running or walking a safe, stable, well-lit route is key in winter. If you exercise in the dark wear bright, reflective clothing, tell someone where you’re going, take your mobile but avoid listening to music as this can make your really vulnerable.
Get a buddy
When it’s warm under the duvet it’s easy to press the snooze button on your alarm but if you exercise with someone else you have to get up. Whether it’s your partner, sister or best friend, being accountable is a sure fire way of getting those trainers on whatever the weather.
One step at a time
Slowly build the amount of exercise you do and if you can’t manage a long session in one go, break it up into manageable chunks. Over time you will see improvements and that will make venturing out all the more worthwhile.
Have a goal
If you’re working towards an end result, you will be more likely to keep up with your exercise schedule. It might feel like hard work when you are cycling into a cold wind but those miles will really count towards a summer sportif and crossing the finishing line in record time will feel amazing.
Cool down but don’t freeze
Even if it is bitter outside, you will still get hot and need to cool down afterwards. To avoid getting too chilled the key is to keep your cool down brief. Slow down your pace for the last five minutes or so of your run and inside to stretch before showering.
You might not sweat as much as you exercise in the winter but you still need to keep hydrated. Take a bottle of water out with you and ensure you drink enough post-run or cycle however cold you have been.
As we have already said, whilst it is good to exercise you need to be safe. If it looks like you will have to battle ice and winds, rather than pounding the streets enjoy a gym session, go out later or even take a break that day.
Whatever you do, enjoy it.