Winter weather exercise
How to keep fit in frosty conditions!
Winter exercising may sound like an impossible task. It's freezing, it rains all the time and it gets dark so early. How can you possibly keep fit in such conditions?
If there is a will, (and maybe some long johns) there is a way!
Tips on winter exercise:
- Bring it indoors. Join a gym or plug in your Wii Fit and get moving. Many community centres now offer gym facilities at a reduced rate, so this may be worth looking in to. You can also log onto sites such as YouTube or Dailymotion and check out exercise vids there. The obvious advantage of working out indoors is that you get to keep warm.
- Join a class. Even if you are not a member of a gym, lots of gyms open their classes to the wider public. Community centres and alternative health studios also offer classes. Bring a mate along for motivation.
- Exercise with a friend or family member. You are less likely to cancel if you know you are due to meet your friend at a class or the gym.
- Outdoor activities such as sweeping leaves, shovelling snow and cleaning up the garden will provide exercise.
- Switch on the TV. With all the channels nowadays, there is always some exercise show on. Yes, it could be cringey to jump around the place to a lady in a pink leotard, but it could also be fun. Check out a TV guide and see when exercise shows are screened.
- Go shopping - particularly to a heated shopping centre. You can window shop and walk in warmth. In the US this is known as "mall walking" and groups of people do it together. It certainly is cheap as chips anyway.
- Set yourself some goals. Goals will always make exercise easier, for example a weight lifting programme may encourage you to lift heavier and heavier weights over time. Or you could train for an event.
- Set up a home gym. Buy some weights, a skipping rope and a swiss ball. Google 'home exercise routines' and you should find loads of info.
- Mix it up. Try to do a different exercise each session for differing lengths of time. Maybe try interval training one day, swimming another, weightlifting another. This should keep it interesting.
- Join a sports team. This will be a great way to socialise as well as to keep fit. You will also be less likely to miss sessions. A fast-paced sport will also help to keep you warm.
- Work with a personal trainer. If you have the dosh, it is a great way to keep the motivation up as well as getting expert advice.
- Remember to stretch out always. In cold weather, muscle sprains are actually more likely so it is very important.
Treat yourself. If you are keeping to your routine despite hail, rain or snow, treat yourself to some new clothes, a great meal out or that DVD set you've been ogling.
How to dress for outdoor winter exercise:
- Check that it's safe for you to exercise outdoors. Certain conditions such as asthma, Raynaud's disease and heart problems may stop you from exercising in the cold.
- Don't overdress. When you exercise, you sweat and your body temperature goes up. This happens even in the freezing cold winter. If you dress too warmly, the sweat can stick to your skin and make you feel chilled.
- It's all about the layers. Put on a polypropylene or other synthetic tops that absorbs sweat, and then add a fleece or something woolly and warm. Avoid cotton clothing in winter as it gets wet and sticks to your skin. Strange, but true.
- Wear a scarf to protect your lungs and throat from the biting wind. Gloves will also protect your hands from frostbite. If it's really cold, consider wearing socks under your gloves or a thinner pair of gloves under a thicker pair.
- If it's raining, try to avoid exercising outdoors. It's not good to be cold AND wet.
- Check your footwear! Make sure it has a good grip, so you won't slip, slide and fall on your ass while getting your workout in.
- Wear reflective clothing if you are exercising any time beyond three o' clock, as the nights draw in very quickly and dull cloudy days can also reduce light.
- Watch out for the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. You might think it's impossible to get these conditions in Ireland, but our winters are becoming more severe so we do have to be careful. Symptoms of hypothermia include: shivering, shaking, loss of co-ordination and slurred speech. Symptoms of frostbite include: numbness or stinging. Go to the A&E if you suspect hypothermia and/or contact a GP for frostbite.