How to beat winter exercise blues

Now that the winter weather is firmly upon us and you’ve dragged out the ugg boots and cosy pyjamas, if you’re anything like me you’ll be doing all you can to stay rugged up in front of the heater and avoid outdoor exercise entirely.

We all need a little extra encouragement in the colder months to get moving, so here are a few ideas from the Bay Active team to keep winter blues at bay, and make it easier to get out and enjoy all the health benefits staying active can bring.

Try hot yoga

Hot yoga is perfect for winter as no matter the weather outside, you'll feel as if you’re right back in summer again.

Research has shown hot yoga to increase strength, muscle control and balance as well as help decrease body weight. One of the main benefits of doing yoga in hot conditions is the extra increase in heart rate and body temperature. Both are equivalent to what you'd get from a brisk walk or light jog, so instead of braving the frosty conditions outside for a morning run, you can achieve the same results in a cosy yoga studio!

Yoga has also shown similar effects as meditation in reducing stress and improving emotion regulation, as well as pain management.

Note: As with any form of exercise it is important to listen to your body, watch for any symptoms of dizziness, light headedness or nausea and be sure to sufficiently hydrate before and after, especially due to the warmer temperature. Be sure to gain medical clearance if you are pregnant or have a history of heart disease or stroke.

Join a boot camp

I’m sure you will have seen the many groups of people out and about in the parks every morning being put through their paces by an energetic and too-happy-for-this-time-of-morning instructor, and wondered why on earth these boot camps are so popular. Research has shown a number of advantages to exercising in groups, and actually, boot camps are particularly good as they are easily accessible, require little equipment or skill and can be carried out basically anywhere.

Being committed to a group in which other people are expecting you makes it that much harder to snooze the alarm. For those who don’t typically enjoy exercise there is a strength-in-numbers mentality, and if you’re struggling to get out those last five burpees, the encouragement and competition from those around you makes you more likely to complete the session than if you were alone. In fact, research has shown time and time again (and across all ages and activity levels) that group sessions can improve your pain tolerance, give you a more positive attitude to exercise and, crucially, increase your chances of sticking with it to get the maximum fitness boost. 

The other benefits of group exercise are the social aspect, and having a trained supervisor who can help everyone challenge themselves appropriately and safely.

There are many boot camps to choose from - all you have to do is show up and get started. Or, if you want to try group exercise and have a gym membership, rather than pounding away on the treadmill try one of the many different gym classes available. You could also get in touch with the team at Bay Active to ask about their exercise classes for another challenging and effective all-weather workout.

Try a social sport

There are a range of different social sports out there all of which require minimal skill, training or previous experience. The benefits are the same as what you'd get with a group exercise session, and there's an extra one too: you get the enjoyment factor of learning a new skill set.

If you’re someone who doesn’t typically enjoy exercise, the distraction of concentrating on chasing a ball or marking an opponent player often makes you forget you're getting a workout. For those who are already very active, a new sport will provide an invigorating challenge and a chance to improve at something you previously weren’t able to do.

Sports such as touch football, indoor soccer and mixed netball (to name a few) run a range of social competitions, often on worknights so you can enjoy the social aspects of team sport without taking away from your weekend.

If you’re not sure where to start or how to get a team together, an easy way is to put out the word at work. Otherwise, check out local noticeboards (especially at gyms) or Google various sports in your area to find out where you can join.

Other tricks of the trade to get you going are to exercise in the morning (it's especially hard to get out when you've just got home from work on a dark evening, and exercising early will kick start your day with a flood of endorphins, too) or to set yourself a goal to work towards, such as a fun run (City2Surf is always a good one) or being able to do a certain number of push-ups.

Often, these things are trial and error, and it's all about finding the thing that works for you.

Hopefully, one of our tips will be just what you need to kick start your exercise routine, but if you'd like any further tips or have any questions or concerns about the best way to go about getting active, do get in touch with the team at Bay Active. We'll be delighted to talk.

We recommend you consider checking with your GP before starting a new exercise programme, especially if you have existing health conditions. If you're pregnant, check the suitability of the exercise with your midwife or obstetrician. Our physios are also available six days a week to help.



Emily Leys