During the cold winter months, staying motivated to exercise and keeping up with a fitness routine can be a challenge. Exercise is fantastic for your physical and mental health – it can help improve cardiovascular health,1 reduce stress,2 boost mood,3 and improve sleep.4 So it is important to maintain your fitness during winter.
The UK recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity per week.5 Simply, this means being active for 20-30 minutes a day!
Now we know how great exercising is, how can we reap these benefits when we feel a little less motivated during the winter?
Here are some top tips from Love Your Gut :
Move in small bouts throughout the day
Does 30 minutes of exercise a day seem quite daunting? An easier way to fit in exercise and achieve your daily exercise goal is by breaking it up into small bouts throughout your day. Here are some ideas on how to add in some activity during the day, and you won’t even realise it!
- Movement at your desk
Rotate your wrists and ankles, stretch your arms and legs, and move your neck side-to-side, up and down – simple, but effective! If you enjoy a challenge, try to practice your push ups against your desk or squat technique on your chair.
- Stand up every hour
It is also recommended to minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods of time,5 so put on your favourite song and walk/dance around your room every hour!
- Active lunch breaks
Take yourself for a brisk walk or do some stretching exercises during your lunchbreak, to relieve any tension in your body.
Walking is your new best friend
Wrap up in a warm jacket, scarf and gloves and take a walk around your neighbourhood and local green spaces!
Walking is the simplest and most accessible form of physical activity – it’s suitable for all ages, low-impact and is totally free! Here are some simple ways to add more steps into your day:
- Take a brisk walk around the block when you need a break from whatever you are doing
- Walk up and down stairs a couple of times – this is also a great way to get your heart rate up!
- Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator
- Walk to your local supermarket instead of driving or taking public transport
- If you use the bus often, get off one bus stop earlier than your usual stop
Try out a Home Workout
Working out at home has become quite popular because you can get active in the comfort of your own home. So how can you maximise your workout and enjoy it at the same time?
- Find space in your home to move
Finding a good spot in the house where you are able to move freely with no obstructions is key for working out at home.
- Explore YouTube workouts
YouTube has a fantastic array of free workout videos where you can easily find a video suitable for your fitness level. If you have any home equipment like dumbbells, resistance bands, or a skipping rope you can incorporate these into your workouts too.
- Dance cardio
Dancing is a fun cardio workout! Pop on your favourite tunes and sway while you’re cooking, cleaning or doing laundry. If you like a more structured workout, try out an online Zumba class.
- Incorporate HIIT into your routine
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a time-effective way to exercise and is over before you know it! A simple HIIT workout could be performing a move with your best effort for 40 seconds, and then having a 20-second break. Repeat this as many times as you like. Cue the sweat!
Active TV Viewing
During the winter, snuggling up in bed and watching your favourite programmes is the best combo! But instead, why not incorporate some movement while watching your favourite TV shows? Try squatting, practicing push ups, jumping jacks, running on the spot, or a good old stretch. It’s a win-win for me!
Maintain your fitness during winter
Working to maintain your fitness during winter doesn’t have to be a chore. Finding an activity that you enjoy and one that suits your lifestyle will be the key to achieving any fitness goals you may have. Whichever way you decide to keep fit this winter, we at Love Your Gut support you!
- Thompson et al. (2003) Circulation, 107(24): 3109–3116.
- Haaren et al. (2015) Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 20: 67-75.
- Reed and Ons. (2006) Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 7(5): 477-514.
- Hartescu et al. (2015) Journal of Sleep Research, 24(5): 526-534.
- Department of Health and Social Care (2019) UK Chief Medical Officers’ physical activity guidelines. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/physical-activity-guidelines-uk-chief-medical-officers-report (Accessed: January 2021).