With winter here, many of us feel less motivated to work out and stay active. The days have become shorter and darker, the temperatures have dropped and all we really want to do is seek the warmth of the covers and the fireplace, rather than hit the gym or take a jog outside. The lack of exercise, combined with our tendency to consume more calorie-rich foods such as soup, stews and pasta during the chilly months, can go a long way increasing those unit counts on your bathroom scale.
But, physical activity during the winter season is actually a good way to keep you warm and beat the winter blues (besides fending off winter weight gain, of course). Regular exercise during winter can also heighten your body's resistance against viruses such as those which cause the common cold and flu. Staying healthy this season will alleviate the pressure on your medical aid expenses, as these illnesses usually bring with them a series of infrequent trips to the doctor. We look at some health and fitness routines you can follow to remain in top shape this winter and emerge beach-ready for the summer season.
Establishing the Right Environment
Courtesy of: Wanita Nicol, Assistant Editor of Women's Health magazine
The problem with keeping up a health and fitness routine in winter all comes down to motivation – or rather, lack thereof. Cold weather and darkness just aren't inspiring. So you need to set your environment up for success. Here are five ways to do that…
Winter Workout Options
Courtesy of: Active Africa
Working out in the winter is not only a challenge but also uncomfortable. Getting out of bed, into the car, out the car and into the gym, and then a similar reverse sequence of events, shows just how disruptive going to gym can be.
Working out at home has its own challenges, like getting out of bed, or trying not to make too much noise…
Not to mention the distractions of those all too inviting comfort foods and drinks, all of which contain the right amount of sugar to make us feel great, but too much to be healthy. While there’s no magic ‘wake up slim and healthy’ solution there are several that make working out at home a whole lot easier and more interesting.
Home workout or gym equipment is an ideal alternative to making a trip to the gym in the winter cold and there are dozens of excellent options today. For cardio the best advice is to find something that you enjoy doing. Cardio workouts can be boring beyond 20 or 30 minutes. You can watch TV, listen to music, watch a movie or use equipment that integrates with apps and open up a whole new world for working out. A great solution for cyclists is the KICKR Turbo Trainer from Wahoo Fitness. The trainer replaces the back wheel of your bike, integrates with apps via Bluetooth and gives you the option to ride anywhere in the world or to create your own workout.
There’s no right or wrong choice when it comes to exercise, the bottom line is that you get back what you put in. The key is consistency. Where possible try to do workouts you enjoy and you’ll find it easier to meet your fitness goals.
Getting Down to Business
Courtesy of: Johann Smal, Account Executive at OFM
Winter…the time of the year when most of us just want to snuggle up under a warm blanket in front of the television or fire place with a glass (or bottle) of red wine and some chocolate. The last thing you feel like during chilly days is going for a walk or run or going to the gym.
Stairs allow for one of the best exercises possible and the different ways you can utilize stairs are infinite. For example the pace you ascend or descend the stairs can differ, the intensity can also be lifted by ascending two stairs with every step. Try to do 3 sets of 1 minute each with 20 seconds rest between each set.
Invest in good quality training equipment such as a Swiss ball, free weights, skipping rope, a bosu ball, different size medicine balls and if you really want to spend money, a spinning bike. Personally I believe treadmills, especially the cheaper kind, contribute toward injuries, so try and avoid them.
Lastly, I am a firm believer of body weight exercise. It is exactly what the name suggests. You use your own body weight during exercise. This includes exercises like squats, push-ups, squat jumps, burpees, knee highs, wall sit and my two personal favourites, planking and box jumps. Below is an example of an easy program:
Squats, push-ups, squat jumps, burpees, box jumps and knee highs:
Planking and wall sit:
Increase the reps and shorten the rest periods between sets if you feel it is too easy or once your fitness levels improved.
I hope that these easy tips will help each and every one to keep fit this winter. I leave you with the following – One of the greatest moments in life is realizing that two weeks ago, your body couldn’t do what it just did.
The Right Tool for the Job
Courtesy of: Miles Harrop of Holistic Gym
Running is out, rowing is out, swimming is out. What's a person to do when it's so cold outside that the birds have stopped singing and your tongue freezes to the roof of your mouth? You have to bring the workout inside. With the rapid expansion of the CrossFit phenomenon around the world, gym equipment suppliers have seen a massive increase in the demand for easy to use multipurpose functional equipment. Here are the top three cheap ways to bring the workout home.
The Kettle bells. These bright coloured weights were once famous for strongman acts in Russia and Europe. Think of a cannon ball with handle stuck to it. What can you do with these weights? It turns out that a set of kettle bells can do far more than normal dumbbells. One set of kettlebells can give you more than 30 different movements.
Chin up bars. The pull-up bar or chin bar allows you to exercise back, shoulders and arms, as well as creating a wonderful stretch for your lower back.
Additional multi-functional items which pack a fat busting punch at almost no cost are the power bags, ab rollers and yoga kits. A personal trainer or fitness expert can give you a varied program to use around the house using only a few items.
The cold and rainy days can make exercising seem daunting but with some motivation and determination you can put the spring back into your step. Now that we've you shown it is possible to stay in shape this winter, it's time to rise from the depths of that blanket and get moving. Remember that working out doesn't mean you have to leave your house or spend a lot of money on fitness practices; there are several activities you can do right at home for cheaper to make you feel revitalized, and save on your medical aid.
Be sure to consult your doctor or a suitably qualified healthcare professional prior to embarking on any of the abovementioned activities or exercises.