What are the best exercises to do in winter when it’s cold or wet?

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Click here for my published InShape News article.

It’s winter … cold, often wet, and maybe even snowing. Sure it can be darn right uncomfortable to get your ‘sweat up’, let alone the lack of motivation that comes with those limited hours of sunlight.

We all think that winter is the time for snuggling, getting sedentary with a good book and enjoying some hearty meals … comfort food … winter warmers. Yep, winter, according to Hollywood and popular belief, is time to hibernate, become a recluse, turn on the TV or grab a good book and bunker down until spring.

But with the joy of the first budburst signifying spring, we often also realise that those skinny jeans no longer fit … and we make a defiant resolution to lose that winter weight, go on a mad (and often crazy) diet in an often fruitless attempt to get our bikini body back for summer.

But imagine a different reality for a moment. What if, during winter, we found ways to be more active, to keep the gradual addition of those surplus pounds and kilograms at bay? What if when spring arrives there didn’t need to be a mad ‘spring clean’ of our waistline … ?

Really the secret to keeping active during the cooler months is all about finding ways to keep yourself motivated and challenged. The best way to do this is by:

  1. Finding The Right Winter Workout
  2. Adjusting Your Approach
  3. Keeping Yourself On Track, and
  4. Employing The Buddy System, when all else fails.

Finding The Right Winter Workout

Here are some winter-weather-proof solutions you can try:

Home Fitness
There are literally dozens of ways to work out at home. If you’ve got a home bike, treadmill or some other piece of equipment – use it. If not, hire it or use a 7 Minute Workout app on your smartphone. Failing that check out Fitstyler’s simple home fitness routine that you do without equipment – click here. Yoga, Pilates and workout routines on DVD like Beach Body’s Insanity can get your core strength up and your body looking trim and toned regardless of the weather outside. If all else fails, find some indoor stairs to climb.

Alternative Outside Workouts
For the winter bunnies out there are a number of alternatives that you can switch to during the cooler months. Try these:

  • Go for a swim at your local pool (added bonus is you can sauna or spa afterwards)
  • Get a temporary membership at your local gym (many are now open 24 hours)
  • Embrace the winter with ice skating, skiing, cross country skiing or hiking, snowboarding
  • Get indoors with sports like basketball, volleyball, rock climbing, dance classes, boxing, trampolining, dodge ball, plyometrics, soccer, self-defence classes, martial arts, cricket, squash, bowling, table tennis, badminton … get the gist?

 Find a Workout Group
If you need more motivation or a personal trainer then trawl Google for “exercise groups near me”. It’s sure to return plenty of results at lots of different venues including indoor halls and sports centres – you’ll just need to sift through the results to find one that looks like it suits you. Failing that ask your friends for any recommendations.

Adjusting Your Approach
Many people chose not to exercise in winter because they think it’s bad for you. But Rodale Wellness’s Celia Shatzman debunks that myth as well as several others. Exercising in the cold is no riskier if you follow these simple rules.

Do A Longer Warm Up
WebMD’s, Richard Cotton PhD explains getting your body warmed up actually makes is psychologically easier to get your workout started. As it’s colder outside getting your body warmed up and ready for a workout is going to take a bit longer. But giving it this time to properly warm up will ensure you prevent injury or shock in muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.

Don’t Stop
In warmer weather you can afford to take a few breaks during your workout – the ambient temperature is higher and you cool down less quickly. But in winter it’s a very different story so keep it moving when out in the cold. And don’t forget once you’re done, move immediately into the warmth in order to stretch, so that your muscles do not become stiff.

Dress Appropriately
Check the outside temperature before you head out for your workout and make sure you layer up appropriately. Wind chill factors can have a huge influence on your core temperature, so make sure you use a Weather App that has a ‘feels like’ temperature guide so you can dress appropriately before you head out. And remember to take off any wet or sweaty clothes afterwards to avoid chills which can lead to illness.

Watch Your Breathing
It’s true that colder wet air can lead to higher levels of infection and a bout of a cold or flu. To know all you need to on this one see my article last month on “How Long Do Colds Last & What Reduces Severity”.

Pick The Right Time
To prevent chills work out during the warmer part of the day. This also greatly increases your chance of grabbing a few rays to stimulate the production of Vitamin D and prevent sadness, depression or SADs, often suffered during months of reduced daylight and sunshine. Vitamin D is not only particularly important for bones and joints, it will also lift your spirits.

Nurture Your Body
Most people forget about drinking adequate fluids during the cooler months, but it’s almost just as easy to suffer from dehydration. So drink plenty of water, and eat a balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruit to support your immune system. Take a multivitamin, 2000mg vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and a super greens supplement to boost your intake if required.

Keeping Yourself On Track
The best way to keep yourself motivated during the winter months is to use an App or chart to measure your progress. There’s plenty of them around, depending on the exercises you want to do. For wearable fitness trackers check out my article “How Do Personal Fitness Trackers Work, and are They Any Good?”

Employing The Buddy System
When all else fails it’s time to employ the buddy system – having someone keep you accountable is a terrific motivator. Need more convincing? Check out FitBodyHQ’s ten reasons to get a workout buddy from safety, form and accountability, to simply making workouts more fun.

In the end, what should be driving you to exercise is not the fear of weight gain (or other) if you don’t. Instead you need to get ‘plugged in’ to the feeling you get inside as a result of getting your workout done. Only then, can you truly remain motivated even throughout winter.