With winter well under way it’s tough to find the motivation to exercise in such harsh conditions. Here are some useful facts emphasising why you should continue your training during the colder months, and some useful tips to make it easier…
The repeated cycle
I know for a lot of people out there its extremely challenging to keep yourself motivated this time of year – it’s cold, it’s dark, it’s miserable. The temptation to hibernate creeps in and the procrastination begins. You say to yourself “I’ll start fresh in January” or “I’ve got five months to get back into shape after Christmas.” But all the results and hard work you’ve put in for the summer disappear and you end up back where you started basically repeating the same goals.
Long term vs short term goals
A common issue I find when first speaking to new clients the first time about what their goals are is that they are too generic. “I want to lose weight for the summer” or “I want to put on mass” – these have little substance or urgency and harder to measure. The chance of failure is greater. By setting weekly/monthly measurable goals throughout you have a much better chance of succeeding the overall goal.
Build and preserve
It goes without saying building muscle is far more difficult than burning fat. It’s during the winter months where the big “gains” occur therefore making life a lot easier when it comes to turn of the year, worrying about the lack of time you have to get into shape. You create a more balanced platform between shredding body fat and preserving muscle come spring and summer by being consistent over winter.
Taps your fat stores
If your prime focus is burning fat then performing any kind of exercise in colder temperatures is the perfect way to burn more calories as more energy is required to heat up the bodies core temperature.
This also has an impact on our resting metabolism as we find ourselves using our bodies reserve energy more often. Be sure then to make sure you have an evenly distributed balance between food intake and exercise ratio, to prevent energy depletion and low blood sugars that may inevitably cause a food binge.
Enhanced circulation – raise that heart rate
Any type of exercise that increases heart rate improves circulation. When your heart contracts at a higher rate, the increased volume of blood moves more rapidly through the arteries and veins of the body, thereby boosting circulation as well as oxygen and nutrient transportation to vital organs. By you choosing not to exercise during the colder months you actually increase the risk of accumulating diseases such as varicose veins, kidney disease, and even stroke due to your blood circulation being so poor.
Immune System Satisfaction
Unfortunately, this is that time of year where we’re floored by cold and flu. I’ve learnt to appreciate just how important my immune system is when trying to combat such infections as well as maintaining my winters training. Just a few simple lifestyle choices you make can help your body’s natural defences:
• Diet – Eating a clean diet rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly in vitamin C gives you that support your immune system requires. Think green leafy veg such as kale and spinach. Foods containing zinc such as poultry and lean meats also help your immune system as well as control inflammation within your body.
• Fluid Increase – Drinking plenty of fluids helps your body’s cells to absorb nutrients and support your kidneys in dumping waste products and toxins, resulting in a stronger immune system which in turn supports other organs and muscles to work at full potential
Speaking from experience there’s nothing more rewarding than completing a long hard run during those frosty cold mornings. As well the physiological advantages mentioned earlier there is also the psychological side.
You certainly give yourself a lot more credit for training in tougher conditions and the mental stimulation you gain is priceless as you know you could have taken the easy option and stayed inside and do nothing.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Another fact in relation to mental health is what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of clinical depression that people suffer particularly when the weather is dark and there is limited sunlight.
Close friends of mine suffer so bad from this you notice their mood is extremely low to the point they threaten to leave the country! One solution I would suggest would be to take advantage of the sunlight in the morning weather that be doing exercise or simply walking for a short period of time. You replenish vitamin D and endorphin levels.
By doing nothing over the winter months and instead choose that comfort eating remain indoors lifestyle we risk building up cholesterol levels that further increase our chances of developing diseases such as blood clots, stroke and heart attack.
Cholesterol also known as lipids, is a fatty substance produced by the liver and found in some foods and our bodies use them for things such as creating hormones, fat –soluble vitamins and aid food digestion. We create a problem for ourselves when too much cholesterol builds up inside the artery walls that leads to more serious health issues.
The Numbers and Facts You Need to Hear
A British psychologist Richard Wiseman performed a research study in 2007 and discovered that 88% of people who plan a new year’s resolution fail within less than a month after starting, further more discussing that the average person gains anywhere between 7-12 pounds over Christmas. Combine those two elements together and you have a recipe for disaster. Do the maths!