Exercising The Winter Blues

Hands up who has looked out of the window recently and been turned cold by the thought of exercise? You could be forgiven, but think again because maintaining or even starting a new fitness regime in the winter is actually proven to boost your immune system, stave off winter blues and set you up perfectly for wearing those skimpy summer clothes.

There are in fact loads of reasons why it’s worth getting kitted-up and braving the chilly conditions for a workout. So, from what to wear to how to tell if you’re well enough to do exercise, here are just a few tips from Kate Dorward, HA Fitness Personal Trainer, to help motivate you into action.

Avoiding Winter Weight Gain

The average person puts on 7 to 12 lbs (approx 3 to 5 kg) each winter, mainly thanks to Christmas excesses and because during the short, cold and miserable winter days, we crave comfort foods to lift our spirits. Added to that, exercise often takes a back seat in extreme weather conditions. But just because it’s winter doesn’t mean going into exercise hibernation.

Winter does boast cool, crisp, bright days where a layer of shimmering frost has never made your local park look more magical, but even when it’s not like that and it seems like it’s been raining non-stop for as long as you can remember, there is reward for braving the elements. Those who make the effort to get out for a walk or a run on these days will testify that they often get the most satisfaction from their achievement.

Not only does getting out of the house to do some exercise get you safely out of reach from the biscuit barrel, it will help you boost your energy, blitz body fat and beat cravings.

Be Prepared

The key to ‘enjoying’ exercise in inclement weather is wearing the right kit.

Wear several layers, including a hat and gloves, to keep you warm, especially as you warm up and cool down. During the main section of your work out you should get pretty warm, so make sure your top layers are light so they can be easily stowed or tied around your waist. If it’s raining, a cap to keep the rain off your face, and a water-proof coat are a must, as once you’re wet you will cool down very quickly.

Spend longer warming up to avoid injury, and think about keeping your cool down short, perhaps completing stretches from the warmth and comfort of your home.

Get Your Baby Prepared Too

Taking your baby out in the worst of the weather might seem odd, but fresh air is always good for little lungs and a healthy dose of oxygen does wonders for relaxing babies.

Provided your little one is layered up too and has a hat and gloves, as well as a snuggly suit and/or cosy toes to nestle into, then they should be happily cocooned in their buggy. Always have your rain cover to hand, not just  to avoid getting wet but also because it will protect your baby from the chilly winter wind, which can make it feel colder than it really is.

The Ultimate Cold Busting Remedy

As already mentioned, exercise boosts your immune system. Regular exercisers are proven to suffer from fewer ailments and to bounce back better following illness.

What if you already have a cold? Is it safe to exercise or should you cosy yourself in at home until you feel better again? Of course it’s down to you to decide, but the general rule of thumb is that provided you don’t have a temperature and your symptoms are from the neck up, then a bit of fresh air and some gentle exercise are helpful ways of helping clear a stuffy nose.

If you are running a fever, or are experiencing symptoms from the neck down, then you are excused and a date with the duvet is perfectly legitimate and necessary to get you back on your feet.

Mum’s have the added worry of their little ones health. If your baby has a sniffle is it wise to expose them to the icy air or will that make them worse? The same rule applies: provided your baby is not running a temperature and is only suffering a mild head cold, then getting them out of a stuffy environment and into the fresh air is generally regarded as a good idea.  As mum’s ourselves, we can also vouch that a change of scenery is always helpful in calming a grisly tot feeling a little out of sorts!

Summer Is Just Around The Corner...

A final word: if you’re currently hiding under thick baggy jumpers, remember there are fewer than six weeks until spring. So if you want to be ready to shed the layers and wear your skimpier wardrobe with confidence, now is the time to start putting in the effort!

Kate Dorward
HA Fitness Personal Trainer, Wimbledon Buggyfit Instructor and Mum of Ella and Freya

Posted by Heather Waghorn.