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Staying active and healthy this winter

While it may be tempting to skip that morning gym session and snooze away under the covers, it’s still important to stay healthy in the colder months despite the siren call of your pyjamas. According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine the average adult needs at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise every week, with 60 minutes per day for children.

With this in mind, here are our ten ways to fend off the sleep-in temptation and stay active during winter:

Walk the pets (or the kids)

There’s nothing better than a family walk to warm everyone up and burn off some of the little one’s energy, so rug up, grab the leash, and enjoy a trip around the neighbourhood or the local park. If you want to try something different, exploring a new walking track or destination for a nice change of scene. We have curated a list of some beautiful walking tracks: Mt Coot-tha in Brisbane, Bondi to Coogee in Sydney and the Bayside Coastal Art trail in Melbourne.

Don’t just walk – run

Walking just not getting your goal? Take it up a notch with an invigorating winter jog. Soak up some sweet vitamin D the natural way, while burning calories at the same time. It may be brisk, but once you start building up a sweat, you’ll find the cooler weather pleasantly refreshing. The winter months are much nicer weather conditions to relax in post-workout when compared to the sticky humidity of summer months. If you are just starting out, setting a specific goal can be a great way to establish momentum in your training commitment. Runs such as the City2Surf competition in Sydney, City2Sea in Melbourne, and City2South in Brisbane are a great way to commit to regular exercise, pushing yourself further while also supporting great charities.

Choose your food wisely

Keep your immune system in check over the flu season by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables containing anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. They say garlic is a great disease-fighting food which can help keep you happy and healthy this winter. If you’re looking for winter meal ideas, here are some amazing soup recipes to keep you warm and healthy.

Use a fitness tracking tool

If you’re more into the solo-workout life, using sport technology such as a step tracker or activity app can be great for setting fitness goals and keeping you mindful about your activity levels. Runkeeper is an app that keeps you fitness-motivated with goal setting, personalised workout playlists, and tracked workout routes. The Fitbit tracker is also popular, keeping track of calories burnt throughout the day as well as sleep patterns.

Keep in mind that the success of these devices are improved when synched with family and friends – a little bit of healthy competition, or just an accountability factor can make a big difference in achieving your health related goals. If you are interested in more about wearable technology and sport then this article is for you.

Grab a friend

Like with the fitness aps, keeping motivated is all about accountability – grab a workout buddy and commit to a time and date, that way when the session rolls around you feel committed to showing up. Woody Allen famously said, “eighty percent of success is just showing up”. Once you get there you are in the spirit to make the most of your time, so you work hard. Having a friend or coach to support you to work towards health and fitness goals keeps you motivated and gives you an even better chance of success.

Keep it indoors

Don’t feel like venturing out into the winter air? No problem. There’s plenty you can do to stay active within the walls of your own home or indoors – try a workout app or video, run up and down the stairs, do some vigorous household cleaning, or just put on your favourite songs and dance last night’s hot chocolate indulgence away. Sports with indoor options such as netball, basketball and cricket are also a great way to keep up a team sport without having to shuddering through training sessions in the frigid winter air.

Sleep & the mind

With the days shorter and the nights longer, our bodies’ natural clock can be thrown off, leading to interrupted sleep patterns and irritability. However, the Harvard Medical School Health Publications state that exercising for only 30 minutes a day can relieve stress and release endorphins, the “happy hormone”, to enhance your health in winter. The National Sleep Foundation concur that exercise improves sleep quality, stating that just 150 minutes of exercise per week significantly impacts sleep quality and alertness. As well as this, practicing mindfulness techniques such as meditation can quiet the mind and help with the negative feelings that sometimes accompany the winter months. Here is a great lululemon video introducing meditation concepts to try out.

If you want to read more about sleep and its impact on health and athletic performance then this article is for you.

Quit sugar

Winter foods are often filled to the brim with sugar – think puddings, fruitcakes, and hot chocolates. While these winter goods are tempting, challenge yourself this coming season to try something new, and quit sugar. It’s all about being aware of what is in your food and making informed choices. Do some research and see if a new approach to nutrition is something you want to try. Here are three great resources for exploring the sugar-free movement: a movie – That Sugar Film, a book (this is what started the attention on sugar revolution) – Sweet Poison, and a program – I Quit Sugar.

Do something new

You don’t have to be actively ‘working out’ to still stay active. Fun, social activities like tenpin bowling, roller skating, bushwalking, or social sports can help you stay active while having a good time with some friends or your family. Anyone for tennis? Get the relatives over for a game of backyard cricket, hit the golf course with friends, or join a hot yoga class to keep you warm and energised on those early winter mornings.

It’s the little things that count

While setting out an hour-long block to do a dedicated workout is great, it’s not always possible with busy work and life commitments. It is important to prioritise your health, so If you’re short on time or struggle to stay out in the cold for too long, there’s lots of small things you can do that add up throughout the day – get off your bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way; take the stairs at work instead of the lift; or do a mini-workout while dinner is cooking away. You’ll find it all adds up in keeping you healthy, and happy.

Keeping healthy this winter isn’t just about sticking to the gym routine – it’s about fuelling your body with the right foods, and taking the time to keep your mind healthy, too. So, whip out the casserole dishes and grab a friend for an invigorating workout, and remember to let your mind rest at the end of it all. Staying healthy starts, and ends, with balance.

Feature image by Andrew Tanglao