1. Prepare the night before
If an early morning run is your aim, set the scene the night before so there are fewer excuses in the morning. Getting at least seven hours of sleep, being well hydrated, eating breakfast and going easy on the caffeine (to avoid a steep decline in energy) will stand you in good stead for the day ahead. Of course, this is all related, as research suggests the more exercise we get, the better our sleep will be.
Accredited exercise physiologist at Wesley LifeShape Clinic Amanda Durbidge (wesleylifeshape.com.au) says, “By managing our levels of stress and anxiety, we may find it easier to fall asleep, be less restless and wake feeling refreshed as opposed to sluggish and tired.”
2. Workout with friends
If morning exercise just isn’t your thing, try getting friends together for a gym class after work. According to accredited exercise physiologist and sports injury specialist Jono Freeman (jonofreeman.com.au), “Social sport is a great way to stay active during winter. Studies show that exercising or moving in a group setting increases adherence rates.” If you simply don’t have the time for the gym, Durbidge suggests focusing on changes you can make at work.
“Increasing your incidental activity such as walking to chat with colleagues at work (rather than send them an email), taking the stairs or going for a brisk walk on your lunch break all increase how active you are throughout the day,” she says. No matter what type of exercise you choose, be sure to stretch; a good warm-up and cool-down give your body time to adjust to the temperature and avoid injury.
3. Try LSD training
The intensity of your winter workout should be largely based on your fitness level. “The type of exercise you should be doing really depends on your goals (fitness versus weight loss) and your lifestyle,” Durbidge says.
“For those wanting to lose weight, I recommend long slow duration (LSD) training. This would consist of a moderate intensity exercise for 45-to-60 minutes. On the other hand, if it’s fitness you are looking for, high-intensity workouts would be best, such as interval training, step or spin classes.” Freeman says, “Short-high intensity workouts work best when done correctly. High-intensity short workouts increase the body’s demand for oxygen and as such increase your metabolism for up to 48 hours after.”
4. Eat regular meals to boost metabolism
While hearty meals can often be seen as a highlight of winter, restricting this to specific times and controlled portions is key. ”Eating at set times enhances metabolism and helps control blood sugar levels (energy release), increasing alertness and, potentially, calorie burning,” Freeman says. Durbidge says.
“I always encourage people to eat regular meals; that is every two to three hours. There is evidence to suggest that eating only one to two meals in the day causes your body to hold onto energy, stimulating weight gain.”
5. Focus on the benefits
Of course, exercising throughout winter won’t only help when shopping for next season’s swimsuit. You are also less likely to be emotionally affected by the bleak weather. “Exercise is important for our psychological health. It aids in managing levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
In conjunction with this, the more active we are, the more energy we tend to have,” Durbidge says. “Exercise elicits endorphins in the form of neurotransmitters, a similar neurotransmitter released by some mental-health medications,” Freeman says. If that’s not enough to get you moving, try focusing on the long-term benefits to your health.
“Exercise is a key principle to reducing the onset of many chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke, not to mention maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Recent research shows that exercise is at least as effective as common drug interventions for reducing death rates due to coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes,” Durbidge says.