Fernwood Tuggeranong PT Ashley Ikin shares her secrets for staying fit and healthy over the winter months.
Why do you think people tend to neglect their fitness in winter?
The winter months always seem harder to get active compared to the rest of the year. The daylight hours get shorter, and really, it’s just cold! It is much easier to think ‘It won’t matter if I miss tonight’s workout’ or let extra comfort foods slip in.
In terms of mental health, we see an increase in symptoms of depression throughout winter. And with seasonal winter depression strongly associated with increased appetite, decreased physical activity and hypersomnia, winter can create a very vicious negative cycle in relation to health and fitness.
What are your top three strategies for staying fit in winter?
No. 1: Routine – set an exercise routine and stick with it! Your goals and your health and fitness can’t take a back seat just because it’s colder outside. These are important things that we need to schedule into our days, they can’t be things that can be easily turned down. Try to include something new in your schedule – try a new class or set some new targets to work towards during winter to keep your interest high and motivation up!
No. 2: Accountability – find a way to keep accountable. Having a friend or family member to exercise with is a great way to keep yourself accountable, and could also offer some friendly competition to keep your workout intensity high! Another great idea is investing in a personal trainer over the winter months. They’ll help keep you focused and safely push you each session with different exercises to challenge your fitness.
No 3: Stay focused – don’t lose sight of your goals. Remember, summer bodies are built in winter! Hold on to what you want to achieve, whether it’s a spring fun run, or a bikini you want to wear when the weather starts warming up. Write your goal on the fridge, make yourself a vision board, set named alarms on your phone – get creative! Whatever it takes to remind you and keep you focused, do it – it could make all the difference.
How does your exercise routine change throughout the colder months?
I try to keep my exercise routine the same throughout the colder months. By the time it starts getting colder, I’ve already established an exercise routine that has become a habit, so why break it?
If you’re just starting out in winter, you’ve chosen a great time. If you can push past what is often regarded as the hardest time of the year, your results are quite literally right around the corner because you’ve already mastered the hardest trait to acquire to hit those goals: the mentality.
The only thing that changes for me personally in the colder months is location. I am a self-confessed wuss in winter, but even though the negative temperatures pose a huge barrier for me, they don’t stop me from reaching my goals and keeping myself healthy. Instead of taking an early morning run outside, I swap to a gym workout. It might be below freezing outside, but it isn’t in the gym! I schedule that time in my day to work out and do something positive for my mind and body, so I’m not going to miss it for the world.
What are the best exercises or routines that will help people stay fit in winter?
Move as much as you can is possibly the best advice. When its colder it’s very easy to turn to that hot chocolate as a quick fix to help you warm up; but that’s just a quick fix. Exercise will warm you up and keep you warm for longer too!
There are loads of health benefits associated with breaking up your day with physical activity, and in winter it becomes even more important to stay active to keep our bodies healthy. From June to August, the common cold gets around more frequently, not because it’s cold, but because we are all spending a greater amount of time indoors. Try to get out as often as you can, and literally get some fresh air.
Find something you enjoy. Exercise throughout winter shouldn’t feel like a chore, but something positive that you have chosen to do for your own health and enjoyment. Try something new: walk up a mountain and appreciate the crisp atmosphere, try a new gym class, take the family outside. Love how it feels to do something positive for your mind and body… and know that you are on track to reach those summer goals.