Our guide to winter workouts
With the challenges of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic set to continue well into the winter months, getting ourselves out and about has never been more important – both for our physical health and for our mental wellbeing.
With that said, it is important, during the Winter months in particular, to understand the effect of the colder weather on your body, and to know what you need to do in order to safeguard and protect it!
- Drink up
This is something you will often hear in the summer months, amid warnings of overheating and becoming dehydrated much more quickly as your body seeks to cool itself down as a response to the warmer surroundings. However, hydration is not something you should overlook in the cooler months – even if you do feel fine. A long workout, no matter how intense it is, should always be undertaken with access to water, to ensure that your blood pressure remains stable.
- Warm up
There isn’t much in the way of research to prove a link between colder weather and a higher risk of injury and pulled muscles – though completely cold muscles are more vulnerable to strain. From experience it seems clear that the colder weather is something we should be taking into account – making sure our bodies are warm before we set off for our workout, if for no other reason than to simply make the experience more pleasant!
- Wrap up
Following on from the last point, warming up is as much about getting your body moving as it is about wearing the right things – and in the case of Winter workouts, for much of us this means layers. Though it is important to stay as warm as possible, layers will enable you to strip off some of the warmer outer garments as your activity continues, letting your body temperature adjust itself to your level of activity and the surroundings. When it comes to the garments themselves, keep your layers breathable and remember that thought you might want gloves and a hat at the beginning of your run, you will likely ditch them after a couple of miles!
- Carb up
It’s true what they say – comfort food keeps us warmer. Carbs maintain healthy blood sugar levels (provided you absorb the right ones), boosting immunity and keeping you free from those pesky winter coughs and colds.
- Reap the benefits
Winter workouts may not sound that appealing, but in fact getting out and about when it is colder can help you to burn more fat and can also help increase your endurance – primarily because your body does not have to work as hard as it does in the summer, and so it is likely to be able to keep moving for longer. It therefore seems clear than an active winter is something you will only benefit from in the Spring, with your hard spend hours in the cold leaving you far fitter and more physically able just in time for the summer.
The best winter workouts recommended by Empire Physiotherapy
For the hardy among us who are committed to the goals and especially to cardio, there is not much as effective for our physical and mental wellbeing as an outdoor run on a cold morning or evening. Invigorating and great for the body, taking yourself out for a run in the winter will keep your body moving, will help you to burn more fat as your body works harder to keep you warm and to fuel your activity, and will ensure you benefit from direct sunlight to stave off any seasonal affective disorder symptoms or winter depressions.
If you aren’t so keen on getting outside, or if the weather is particularly bad, don’t let that keep you away from some winter activity. Get yourself moving with an at-home HIIT workout or workout video – with tons to choose from online, ranging from beginner sessions through to intense workouts for experienced athletes. You could also consider joining a gym if you are keen to keep up your exercise regime during winter, though individuals should approach this with caution in light of the ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions.
The other alternative is to take up an indoor sport or an active hobby, such as tennis or badminton, or even swimming. Depending on your age and ability, various sporting activities can be particularly beneficial to different areas of the body, different muscle groups and difference fitness goals. Further research will guide you in the best options for you!