Andy Magill (Head Vitality Coach at VitalityHealth) has produced his top tips on staying active, and keeping up fitness motivation, during the winter months. Particularly with the harsher colder weather, darker nights, and other seasonal barriers.
1: Think of the end goal
Sometimes the biggest barrier to staying active during the winter can be a lack of motivation, particularly as the darker nights and colder weather set in. However, keeping the end goal in mind will help to keep you motivated, whether it’s losing weight, training for a marathon, or getting in shape for an important event. In addition, try kick-starting your fitness before the New Year – it will help to keep you focused over the festive period and leave you in a much better position come January.
2: Exercise at home
Harsh weather and shorter daylight hours can make it all too tempting to skip an exercise session and stay indoors, so try making a few small changes to your existing routine. There are a number of steps you can take to still get great results at home, such as investing in a fitness DVD or learning new exercises that don’t require gym equipment. Similarly, if you want to avoid training at night, try exercising during your lunch break instead.
3: Invest in weather-appropriate clothes
Equipping yourself with the right clothes will mean you’re always ready to train outdoors, even in the cold or rain. Opt for a waterproof layer that will protect you if the weather unexpectedly turns, as well as breathable clothing to help make sure you don’t overheat. It’s important to remember that your body heat will increase as you exercise, so always be aware that you may not need a huge number of layers. Carrying a small backpack means you can take layers off as your body starts to warm up. Wearing a hat is a good idea, too, as most body heat is lost through the head. Opt for one made of a breathable material rather than woolly fabric as this will help keep your body at a comfortable temperature.
4: Stay mindful of what you eat
The cold weather can make us opt for warm, home-cooked meals, but it’s important to ensure that you’re getting the right nutrients. For example, wholesome soups or stews with seasonal vegetables can be a great way to pack in vitamins and minerals. As with all exercise, it’s important to make sure you’re consuming enough protein and carbohydrates to keep energy levels up and help your body recover. The winter months can often see lots of cold and flu going around, especially in the workplace, so try to consume foods rich in Vitamin C, like oranges and plums or broccoli and bell peppers. Similarly, beverages such as a warm cup of honey and lemon will help fight off any illness as well as boost your immune system.
5: Sleep well
It’s vital to ensure you are getting enough sleep each night. Data from Vitality’s Britain’s Healthiest Workplace study found that the optimal level of sleep is between seven and eight hours a night. People who sleep less than this lose nearly four additional days of productive time each year. Aiming for seven to eight hours a night will leave you feeling refreshed, less stressed, ready for the day ahead, and help you fight off any winter bugs doing the rounds at the office.
Andy is a trained Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and has a wealth of experience in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Andy is passionate about health and wellbeing, with a particular interest in running and triathlons. As a Vitality coach, Andy helps clients to understand the health risks of the employee population, and assists in the implementation of health and wellbeing strategies to some of the largest companies in the world.