Tap into cold weather training habits to keep yourself motivated and active all season. Stephanie Ayre tells you how.
Working out in winter is hard, especially when your bed is far more inviting than a 6am spin class. But with the benefits of exercise easily outweighing any negative, don’t let your fitness routine slip just yet. With a few clever strategies, you can continue to make exercise happen.
Be gym ready
Having a pre-packed and ready-to-go gym bag equipped with all the essentials (including warm winter layers, healthy snacks, a towel and headphones) will give you the best chance of tackling any workout when it’s cold out.
Sometimes you just need to accept that working out in winter is far from ideal. Learn to embrace the discomfort and focus on the reasons you want to be active in the first place — summer is right around the corner, you know. Be positive, take that first step and know you’re only one workout away from feeling great.
Sweating it out with a friend is always a good idea. And when you can’t count on yourself to make it past the pre-workout coffee, calling in a buddy is one of the best ways to establish accountability and ensure you follow through — rain, hail or shine.
Keep your routine fresh
While many of us find comfort in routine and regularity, this can also put you on the road to a workout rut. Give yourself the best chance at sticking with it this season and keep your body guessing. Set yourself small, achievable and fun goals and month-to-month challenges, focusing on different areas you’d like to target. The best way to stay keen is to have variety in your workouts.
Try the 5-minute rule
If you’re considering ditching your session and going back to bed despite all efforts to be workout ready, try the 5-minute rule. Tell yourself to just get to your workout and if after 5 minutes you truly don’t want to be there, then give yourself a free pass (without guilt) to leave. More times than not, you’ll be glad you gave it a shot.
If there’s one thing that will zap your energy, it’s a cold or flu. Prevention is key, so boost your immunity!
Keep at it
Everyone needs time to rest and recover, but don’t stop now. Exercise is said to boost the circulation of virus-fighting white blood cells, with recent research suggesting that those who sweat it out are less likely to catch a cold. Those exercise-induced endorphins help keep the sniffles at bay, too.
Germs lurk everywhere — especially in the gym! Clean those mitts before and after every workout, and even after touching some machines. While most of the germs in your gym bag are your own, they can still make you sick. Keep your clean clothes separate from the dirty, and be sure to change that sweaty towel each session.
Eat it to beat it
Don’t let your diet make you sick. Vitamins and minerals play a vital role in keeping the immune system buzzing. Vitamins C, B, D, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc are all essential for a healthy immune system. Stock your fridge with foods rich in protein such as lean meats, fish and legumes, and include a whole bunch of antioxidant-rich fruits and veg.
Know when to relax
When you’re less stressed, you’re less likely to be a germ magnet. Relaxing massage therapy can improve your immune function by loosening up overworked muscles and releasing toxins while increasing the mood-boosters serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
Being short on sleep can leave you more susceptible to catching a cold. To beat the winter bugs, you’ll need to be logging at least seven hours of shut-eye each night.
Update your winter wardrobe
Preparing your wardrobe for the cold weather will ensure you not only look your best, but that you’ll also be comfortable and confident in the cold. The key to keeping warm and dry is smart layering — anything you can pull on and off with ease (think jackets, tops, track pants and beanies) when things heat up mid-workout. Look for pieces that will block out wind, water, absorb sweat and keep you warm and toasty on the inside. Reflective gear will help keep you safe on those early-morning and late-night outdoor sessions.