Now I’ve got you humming along to Ray Charles or Gerry and the Pacemakers, haven’t I?
There is a direct correlation between the declining average temperature and the level of motivation to exercise for most.
Let’s face it; winter is a pretty miserable time to be outside. It’s cold, grey and often wet – hardly an appealing prospect for exercise enthusiasts and wannabes alike.
However, for the sake of your health and wellbeing, it is essential to keep active over the colder months and not fall into the trap of ‘human hibernation’.
Still not convinced? Here are just some of the reasons why you should prioritise exercise during winter:
I can hear you saying “but it’s so cold – why on Earth would I go outside?” Good point – it’s a bleak prospect. The fact of the matter is though; exercise creates natural heat through your body. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, your body can regulate its temperature better in the cold. With no heat or humidity to deal with, you should be able to exercise for longer, meaning it will be easier to hit your fitness goals over the winter months if you approach them properly.
This is also a good way to cut household costs – next time you’re thinking of blasting the heater, consider going for a brisk run or walk instead. Your body (and your bank account) will thank you for it.
Banish those winter blues with sweet sunshine
Okay, I was just talking about how bleak and miserable it is in winter. I wasn’t lying; however, living in Australia means we’re still likely to find the sun breaking through on occasion during even the most depressingly grey weeks. If you see the sun poking through the clouds, use this as your cue to soak up some vitamin D. You can read our previous blog about this here.
Getting outdoors can help prevent the common ‘winter blues’ or the more serious seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is thought to be a biochemical result of a lack of daylight, causing reduced production of serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’.
It’s natural to retreat to the comfort of your own home in winter – who doesn’t like curling up with multiple layers of clothing, warm food and Netflix?
This often leads to neglecting friendships over the colder months, as we often stop going out for meals or drinks in favour of comfort. A great way to counteract this is to go for walks, runs or rides as a group – not only will you see your friends and keep up-to-date with all the goss, you’ll be able to use each other as motivation when exercising.
Avoid winter weight gain
Red wine, hot chocolate, gooey cheese and hearty soup. No, this is not my plan for tonight (unfortunately). Do they sound like your winter comfort foods, though?
It is so easy to fall into the trap of eating for comfort during the colder months, and I’m not going to get on my high horse and preach that I don’t love some good, fatty food when I’m feeling cold and miserable… This is not the answer though!
What winter should be is an opportunity to get yourself fit and healthy.
A study published by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism notes that being outside in cold weather helps transform white fat (i.e. belly and thigh fat) into brown fat, which is commonly known as the ‘good fat’ as it helps burn, rather than store, calories.
Boost your immunity
We’ve all been struck down with a nasty flu in winter before – it’s not fun. It is often theorised that, amongst other factors, physical activity can help flush bacteria out of your lungs and airways, subsequently reducing your risk of infections. The rise in temperature during and after exercise can also prevent bacteria from growing, and it may help the body fight infection more efficiently.
If routine exercise is not for you, consider following the advice of one of our consultants, Sandy: “I wouldn’t consider myself an overly health-conscious person – I eat what I want and our line of work is very sedentary,” she says.
“What I’ve done, however, is found a way to integrate walking into my day-to-day life. I don’t always go out specifically to walk for 30 minutes, but I have made a point of replacing motorised transport with walking wherever I can… It could be as simple as replacing a five-minute bus ride with a short, brisk walk to get my blood circulation going.”
So next time you’re thinking of driving to the local shops, try leaving your car at home and indulging in the fresh air. This could be the perfect way to make it through winter.