How to stay active in winter

When it's cold and dark outside it's tempting to stay on the sofa with Netflix instead of wrapping up warm for a brisk winter walk. But keeping active is important during the winter.

Physical activity offers the same great health benefits as it does at other times of the year. But it can be particularly effective if you’re watching your weight. That’s because exercising in colder temperatures means your body has to work harder – which means burning more calories – to stay warm.

If you’re going outdoors to exercise, try to remember the following:

Stay warm Try wearing lots of light layers of clothing instead of one thick layer – sports clothing made from special fabrics that keep moisture away from your skin can be particularly helpful, as if you sweat or get wet, your body temperature could drop too low. Also remember to wear reflective clothing if you’re walking or jogging outdoors when it’s dark. Wear a hat too, as a lot of body heat is lost through your head.

It’s also a good idea to warm your muscles up before you leave home, as the cold can make your muscles get tighter, and that could lead to you having an injury. Do some marching on the spot or other warm-up exercises while you’re still indoors. And if it’s really cold outside try putting your jacket on the radiator for 10 minutes before you go out.

Step wisely If there’s ice around take care, as you could fall and injure yourself. Try to avoid outdoor exercising in icy conditions, especially running or jogging.

Check with your GP If you have a health condition ask your GP if it’s safe for you to exercise outdoors in cold temperatures. It’s also important to consult your GP if you’re new to exercise and haven’t been very active recently before starting any physical activity.

Staying in

If, on the other hand, it’s just too cold to head outdoors or you’d rather avoid going out in the dark, there are lots of things you can do indoors to stay active at this time of year.

You could, for instance, find out what’s on at your local sports and leisure centre. Try to find a fitness facility that’s close to where you live, as you’ll be far more likely to change your mind about heading out if you have to travel a long way.

Most leisure centres have a range of classes on offer from archery and circuit training to yoga and Zumba – so you’re sure to find something that suits you. And if you can bear the thought of immersing yourself in water at this time of year, swimming and other water-based activities such as aqua aerobics offer many benefits (an energetic swim, for instance, could help you burn 600 or more calories an hour).

But if you don’t want to venture outside at all, there’s plenty you can do at home. Try following a fitness DVD with a friend or choose from the multitude of free workouts on YouTube. You could also invest in some home exercise equipment – but make sure it doesn’t end up at the back of a cupboard in a few months’ time. Doing household chores can also help get your heart pumping if you put enough effort into it.

Most importantly, try to remember how good exercising makes you feel whenever you feel the urge to skip a session. Exercising helps boost your body’s production of ‘feel-good’ chemicals called endorphins, which can help keep your spirits up during the winter months. Also remind yourself that the warmer weather isn’t that far away, and that all your hard work and effort now is preparing you for looking and feeling great during the spring and summer.

For more tips on staying active at any time of year, have a chat with your local Careway pharmacist. Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.