5 exercise essentials to keep you fit through winter
With winter bringing us cold, dark and rainy mornings, getting out of bed to work out can seem about as appealing as burnt toast. It's no wonder we tend to let our exercise regime fall by the wayside, but, as seductive as a warm bed may be, exercising year-round is essential to keep your fitness levels high and maintain your overall health and wellbeing. Here are my top five tips to keep moving this winter.
1. Stay toasty
Even the best of us struggle to get out of bed on icy winter mornings. Try heating your room in the morning to make it easier to get up, and invest in some warm outer-active wear (think wool or cashmere) to wear to and from your workout. If the thought of getting dressed for your workout gives you goose bumps, try sleeping in your gym gear - no, really! Most of us are used to wearing warm pyjamas to bed in winter, so the change to comfy gym gear probably won't come as much of a shock, and when your alarm goes off, you'll have no excuse but to put your runners on and go.
2. Eat more frequent light meals
As tempting as comfort food may be, try to avoid heavy sauces, large amounts of dairy and excess carbohydrates as they'll leave you feeling drowsy, uncomfortable and can seriously derail your exercise motivation. Try to stick to light and healthy meals such as lean proteins with vegetables or vegetable, lentil soup or chicken soup. This doesn't mean eating less - just instead of reaching for comfort food at dinner time, try spacing out four to five lighter meals across the day to help keep you full and avoid the temptation of a huge bowl of pasta every night. Light meals will also keep your energy levels in check throughout the day and help you to avoid post-workout indigestion.
3. Boost your immunity
Our body is only as strong as the fuel we put into it, which is especially true in winter. In winter, coughs, colds and the flu are more common so to stay well and on track for your fitness goals, it's important to boost your immunity. The best way to do this is to eat a vitamin and nutrient-dense diet. Sometimes it can be hard to get all the nutrients your body needs through diet alone, so an essential in my winter health regime is Comvita Fresh-Picked Olive Leaf Extract, which I add to my morning smoothie or afternoon peppermint tea to give my immune system some extra support. If I do fall ill, I take Olive Leaf Extract to ease my cough, cold and flu symptoms and to minimise my time away from the gym so I can get back to teaching my Barre classes sooner.
4. Make a start
Getting out the door in the cooler months is half the battle. If you're really not feeling motivated to do a more strenuous exercise program, simply put on your runners and walk around the block - even a short 20-minute walk two to three times a week has wonderful health benefits. If you normally head to the gym to workout, be sure not to break out of your routine. Try to take five minutes to complete a basic warm-up as your muscles are cooler and tighter on cold winter mornings. Once your blood is flowing and you're in the zone, it's much easier to convince yourself to ramp up the pace and keep going. And if that still isn't working for you, you can always work out at home. Try Barre Body's Online Studio which is full of workouts you can do from your living room (and even in your PJs!).
5. Consider low impact exercises
Exercising in winter is important to keep your body healthy and functioning at its best, however the winter chill can leave you feeling stiff and susceptible to muscle cramping, which can quickly drain your motivational levels. If you're prone to muscle tightness and inflammation then you may benefit from some low impact exercise, such as a brisk morning walk, indoor swimming and more lengthening and stretching-based exercises, such as pilates and yoga. If you're finding there are certain areas of your body that are feeling particularly strained or tight, you may want to consider using a foam roller or investing in a weekly massage.
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