With fewer hours of daylight available to us during the autumn and winter months, it’s even more important to get outside, make the most of that limited vitamin D and get those endorphins pumping.
Despite the appeal of preserving fitness levels, avoiding winter weight gain and beating the seasonal blues, it can be tough to maintain motivation as the nights get darker and the temperature drops. Here, we’ve outlined some top tips for continuing to work out in cold weather, so that when spring comes around, you’ll be ready to step it up instead of having to start from scratch.
Ready for all weather
One thing that can put paid to even the best laid exercise plans is insufficient clothing. Layering up winter workout clothes is the best way to go if you’re out for a run or a cycle in the cold; it’ll keep you snug by insulating warm air between the layers, and you can remove a layer if you get too hot. Hands and ears should be covered if the temperature drops below around five or six degrees, since blood is pulled away from the extremities to keep the core warm, making them particularly cold. A lightweight, breathable waterproof is always a good idea, as we know that the cold won’t be the only problem we face – rain will always be the British amateur athlete’s perennial pain point.
Specialist equipment can also keep you going, such as detachable non-slip spikes for your running shoes to keep you safe (and upright) in icy weather.
The early bird catches the worm
As the clocks go back, we lose out on light during the evenings. When it’s pitch black on leaving work, it can leave even the bravest fitness fanatic hesitant to go out and pound the pavements. Make the most of the morning daylight, and head out first thing for a winter workout. It will energise you for the day ahead, and leave your time in the evening free for getting indoors and cosying up.
If work or family commitments make it impossible for you to exercise earlier in the day, there are steps you can take to make it a safer and more enjoyable to work out during the dark nights. Wear reflective clothing and make sure someone knows where you’re going and what you’re planning to do. More tips on this to follow…
Phone a friend
Whether you’re using it as an excuse to catch up with a friend, or simply to maintain that misery loves company, having a plus one – either at first light or during the dark evenings – can keep you safer, keep you motivated and make the overall experience much more fun!
Although you won’t feel half as parched as when you’ve worked out in the summer sun, it’s still important to stay hydrated. If you’re heading out for a longer walk or cycle, a small thermos with herbal tea can keep you both heated and hydrated.
Know when to stay inside
There’s no shame in retreating indoors to work out when it gets sub-freezing. Doing so could keep you motivated and save you from injury. Of course, you might not be getting the benefits of outdoor exercise, such as increased exposure to sunlight for vitamin D, but as long as you’re burning the calories and raising your heart rate, it counts!
Find indoor activities – join a gym or find some fitness classes, such as yoga, CrossFit or spinning. You don’t even have to leave the house, as a bodyweight workout in your living room can be effective, and avoids the need to invest in any specialist equipment or membership fees.