The days are getting shorter and it is starting to get cold. And when it is cold it can be difficult to stay motivated about your health and fitness! Here are the top reasons to keep exercising when the temperature drops.
- THE SUN IS MORE OF A FRIEND THAN YOUR HEATER
While there are a limited number of foods that can provide your body with vitamin D, the easiest source is from exposure of bare skin to sunlight. During summer a short exposure of 10-15 minutes is plenty, but in winter, sunshine can be harder to come by, especially if you are snuggled up indoors. So that’s why it is very important to get outside and get moving! Sunshine makes bones strong and keeps your immune system strong. It can also boost positivity, help prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.
- KEEP WARM
Save electricity and prevent an expanding waistline by heating your body up naturally with a workout. The rise in your body temperature during a workout has a soothing, calming effect on your body, not unlike a long soak in a warm bath or sitting in front of the heater or fireplace.
- STAY HEALTHY
Research has shown that regular exercise strengthens your immune system so it can fight off bacterial and viral infections. This becomes particularly important in winter when colds and flu rear their ugly heads. When you exercise and get your blood pumping, immune cells circulate through your body more quickly helping them seek and destroy infections. But this boost only lasts for a few hours, so exercise needs to be regular for long-term effects.
- BEAT THE WINTER BLUES
We know that after exercise, the brain releases the “feel-good” chemicals serotonin and dopamine, which can help to reduce anxiety and depression while boosting wellbeing. 45 minutes of exercise in the day could change your whole outlook on winter!!
- TAKE A DEEP BREATH
Being cooped up with nothing but heaters to keep the air moving means fresh air is much harder to come by in winter! Generally, the air outside is healthier than that inside so exercising gives your lungs a chance to detox and breathe deeply without concern for breathing in other people’s bugs (at home or from the office!)
- AVOID WINTER WEIGHT GAIN
In the colder months it is so easy to turn to comfort food. The average person puts on up to 4 kg during winter! The only way to make up for those added treats is to increase the amount of exercise you’re doing.
- IMPROVE CIRCULATION THROUGH YOUR BODY
Many people suffer from cold hands and feet during winter. If the weather is really bad, try these exercises inside your home to improve your blood circulation to your hands, feet and legs or attend any indoor exercise classes such as yoga, Pilates or Ageless Grace (www.agelessgrace.com):
Exercise is one of the easiest ways to get the blood flowing to your hands. Like all the other parts of your body, the muscles in your hands need oxygen.
• Hold your hands out in front of you and shake them about to get the blood flowing.
Exercise 1: Clenching
• Ball your hands into fists and keep them clenched for ten seconds, then release (repeat this a few times).
• Incorporate a pliable object, such as a rubber ball or piece of crumpled paper to provide additional resistance.
Exercise 2: Stretching
• Stretch your hands by spreading out your fingers.
• Bend each of the joints in your hands and hold each position for a few seconds before proceeding to the next.
• You can use your other hand to help with the stretching, but do not try to force your fingers to move more than comfort allows.
Exercise 3: Isometric Exercises
• Begin by holding your hands against your chest, with your palms pressed against each other.
• Push your hands together for ten seconds, then release and repeat.
• Clench one hand; push your fist into the palm of your other hand.
• Hold in place for ten seconds, and then repeat with the other hand.
• Vary the angles at which you push and try alternating between using your fingertips and the palms of your hands.
• Finish your exercise routine by massaging your hand’s muscles with your thumb and fingertips.
Flexing and stretching your feet is one form of circulation exercise that keeps blood flowing freely throughout your legs while you sit or recline for long periods of time.
• Begin the exercise with your feet flat on the floor. Place your weight on your toes, keeping them in contact with the floor at all times. While your toes are touching the floor, lift your heels up. Hold the position for a count of three before returning your feet to the starting position. Next, keep your heels on the floor and point your toes up toward the sky. Perform 10 repetitions of each variation of the foot exercise.
Continue your circulation exercises with ankle rotations.
• While sitting in your desk chair, in the car (as a passenger only) or on an airplane, turn your ankles in small circles. Perform this leg exercise one leg at a time or both simultaneously, depending on your level of coordination. Rotate your ankles for 30 seconds going clockwise and repeat the exercise in a counterclockwise direction for another 30 seconds.
Exercises involving your knees not only improve your circulation but also strengthen your quadriceps, the large muscle in the front of your thigh.
• Tighten your quads, bend your knee and lift your leg about 12 inches off the floor. Perform 20 repetitions with each leg. Stretch your muscles further by bringing your bent knee as far up to your chest as possible while sitting in your chair. Hold your knee to your chest for 15 seconds before releasing it.ss