Now that we are past the festivities of the holidays, we are now firmly in the bleak dark part of winter. In January, the days are dark, and we are all feeling a touch lethargic (mainly from stuffing our faces with chocolate over Christmas).
This is the time when many of us decide to get active. Whether that it means getting back out there after a break or you are fully on the new year, new me bandwagon, you are just one of many. If your goal is to shift those few extra pounds you have put on, training for an event or just enjoy exercising (and why not?) here we offer some helpful guidance on how you can keep warm and active this winter.
Thermals are Your Friend
If you are exercising outside, such as going for a run, then make sure to wear thermals – especially if you are planning on being out for a while. This is when temperatures are likely to freeze, especially in the evenings, so you should make sure that you are adequately protected from the conditions.
Of course, as much as you want to keep warm neither do you want to overheat. There is nothing worse than feeling as though you have a layer or two too many on when you are running around, so be smart with your kit of choice. This is why thermals are your friend during the winter.
Thermals, such as second skins, can be worn underneath your usual kit (i.e. t-shirt/vest and shorts) which means that you maintain your body temperature whilst wearing something breathable. A woolly hat and gloves also make for welcome accessories during the winter months.
When running around in the summer, no doubt you always remember to keep a bottle of water nearby to maintain your hydration. However, you may not be aware that maintaining your levels of hydration also helps to regulate your body temperature – that means that drinking water will help to keep you warm. It is one of the things that youth coaches make sure to tell their players during the frosty period.
The cold weather will also wreak havoc on your muscles, causing them to contract and tighten – especially if you haven’t warmed up properly. Maintaining your body’s hydration levels will help your muscles to remain supple, meaning you are less likely to pull something on your run and find yourself limping home in the cold.
Motivation, for many, is the one key ingredient that is missing when it comes to getting and keeping active. January, especially, is a tough month because you have probably gone back to work after the holidays (and the days just seem to drag). On top of that, the mornings are dark and the evenings even darker, so you don’t have a chance to workout in the daylight unless it is a day off (or your working hours/responsibilities allow for it).
To help motivate yourself, think about what your targets are. If you are hoping to lose weight, then keep a regular diary of your weight loss and watch your progress as you get ever closer to your target weight. If weight loss isn’t the goal, then why not sign up for an event you have to train for? This is a good time to put your name in the hat for races held later in the year, giving you ample time to train and get your fitness levels to where they need to be.
The best form of motivation could be to simply compete against yourself and set a new personal best. That could be a new fastest run, push-ups in a day or a personal weightlifting record. Maybe you could find a buddy, preferably of similar ability/fitness, that you can go up against and push one another?
Up until now, we have mostly spoken about being active outdoors, but of course, there is the option to train indoors which, for many, will be preferable. Gyms offer all the equipment you could ever need to get yourself toned, with memberships available at varying prices depending on where you join and what it is you are looking for.
If you are exercising on your own (i.e. not as part of a group), then running around in the dark may not be something that some are comfortable with and would rather be in a gym environment. Feeling secure about where you exercise is important, and everyone has the right to feel safe.
Exercising in the gym will be considerably warmer than outside, meaning that you won’t have to wear extra layers when working up a sweat. The main downside of joining a gym is that you may be limited to going during peak times, when you may have to wait to use the equipment that you want to use (which can be incredibly frustrating, especially if the person you are waiting for is just sat on their phone not doing anything).
This option won’t be for everyone, either because of available space or funds (or a combination of the two). If you do have the option of investing in some home gym equipment that you can make use of during the winter months, then we highly recommend it.
The equipment that you should buy is dependent on what your goals are. If you are wanting to get stronger and build muscle, then weights such as dumbbells and barbells should be on your wish list. Whatever you buy, make sure to invest in something that is of good quality and not cheaply made, otherwise you may just end up regretting it after only a few uses. To help save space, look for models that can be folded away – crucial if you don’t have a room or a space that you can dedicate for gym equipment.
In the modern-day, however, you don’t need equipment to get in a good home workout. Streaming services now mean that you can follow workout routines at the click of a button – HIIT sessions are extremely popular. All you need for this is an adequate amount of space so as you can move around, at least 20 minutes to spare and a bottle of water. You may just be surprised to learn how many calories you can burn in a single HIIT session.
It’s the start of a new year and whether you are getting active to better yourself, or you are an active person anyway, make sure to keep warm and motivated as temperatures freeze!