If you’re anything like us, winter’s the perfect excuse for cosy fires, hearty meals and hours spent binge-watching TV. However, exercising through the winter months can help ward off the winter blues, boost energy and ensure you don’t have a ‘winter coat’ to shed come Spring. So here are a few easy, low-cost tips to exercise safely in winter ... and keep that body moving.
1. Burn while you binge.
Can’t miss your favourite shows? Use the ‘downtime’ to walk or jog while you watch, do yoga, stretch or lift some weights. Try a mini ‘mat’ workout on the rug or carpet – a few crunches or push-ups every day can make a difference.
2. Re-arrange your day.
The shorter days can make finding time for exercising challenging, so see if you can re-jig your schedule and take a walk, run or class at lunchtime instead.
3. Warm up first.
In colder weather, your risk of getting strains and sprains increases, so always allow time for a good warm-up, no matter what the temperature. Choose low density movements such as lunges, squats or arm swings. A good warm up increases blood flow and muscle temperature to help decrease the risk of injuries.
4. Dress ‘dry’.
Getting wet is the quickest way to lose body heat, which can leave you feeling chilled and miserable. Avoid active wear made from cotton (which soaks up sweat and rain and holds in moisture). Opt for synthetic fibres instead - such as polyester, nylon or polypropylene - as they’re designed to dry quickly.
5. Layer up.
You also need layers to trap warm air next to your body. So if it’s really cold outside, wear a middle layer such as merino wool or polar fleece for extra warmth, then add a lightweight nylon windbreaker or heavy waterproof jacket.
6. Protect your extremities.
Wear a hat, gloves, mittens and warm, woollen socks to protect your fingers, ears, nose and toes when you’re exercising outdoors. It’s a whole lot more fun if you’re warm and comfortable!
7. Take the stairs.
Go up (or down) the stairs as often as you can, even if it’s just a floor or two. Or walk some of the way, then take the elevator the rest of the way. And why ride escalators when you can climb them?
8. Walk while you talk.
Making or taking phone calls often? Don’t just sit there, make a habit of getting out of your chair and strolling about while you’re on the phone. Even better, ditch the coffee and organise ‘walk-meetings’.
9. Do something new.
Winter is the perfect time to take up that activity or exercise you’ve always meant to do, but never found the time (or energy). Pilates, Zumba, ballroom dancing, belly dancing, bowling, you name it – find something you love doing and the exercise will come easily.
10. Wear sunscreen.
You can still get sunburned if you’re exercising outdoors during winter months – especially when skiing or snowboarding. In fact, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, UV exposure increases 4% to 5% for every 1,000 feet of elevation1. So before heading out for a winter workout (at any elevation), apply a broad spectrum SPF30+ sunscreen to any exposed skin – and don’t forget to protect your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses.
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