With Winter knocking on our door step, I can’t help but feel ripped off with the Summer 0f 2016/17. Summer is great for many things but Winter also has its benefits especially when it comes to exercise. I personally enjoy the cooler months for running but prefer the warmer months for weight training.

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is urging Australians to not hide their running shoes in the back of their closet this winter, but to take advantage of the positive effects exercising in the cold has.

“We all know that exercise is good for your physical and mental well-being, but it can get harder to stretch those legs and work up a sweat in the colder months of the year,” says ESSA’s Chief Executive Officer, Anita Hobson-Powell.

“Exercising all year round provides a wide range of benefits for your body, including strengthening your heart, which can help reduce your chances of heart disease, improving your cardiovascular health, controlling your weight and boosting your energy.”

Physical activity in colder weather also has its own benefits too, as research by Maastricht University in the Netherlands suggests that simply being cold and shivering can increase your metabolic rate and burn kilojoules.

“Although it may only increase your metabolic rate slightly, the cold will help your body work that little bit more and burn those few extra calories,” says Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Carly Ryan.

“The rush of endorphins and vitamin D exercising provides can also help your mental health in the cooler months, as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can include symptons of lethargy, sadness and changes in circadian rhythms, which exercising can help defeat.”

To help keep your body and mind happy and healthy this winter season, here are some tips for exercising right through the Winter months.

  1. Make sure you’re warmed up – Before any exercise, it’s important to warm up and stretch, to make sure your body is sufficiently prepared for the activity.
  2. Set your alarm – Getting up when it’s dark can be hard enough, add cold weather to that and the pain doubles. Set your for the same time every day, even if you’re not getting up to exercise. It will help prepare your body clock for the days that you are. If it’s a real struggle, change your routine up so you exercise in your lunch break or when bubs is having a sleep for example.
  3. Exercising in the warmth of your home – Whether it’s going off a personal program or watching an exercise program online, you can still keep your body physically active without needing to walk out the front door. Have some weights or a skipping rope at arms reach. Pick up the dumbbells while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or pump out 30 squats in the shower in-between washing your body and hair.
  4. Heading outdoors? Rug up! – If you do decide to go for a run outside in the cool air, make sure you wear suitable clothing to help keep the warmth with you and feel more comfortable as you exercise. Layers are good, keep you warm at the start and then remove and tie around your waist as your core body temperature rises. Avoid cotton as your bottom layer as it holds moisture and loses insulating powers when wet.
  5. Set new goals – Concentrate on something new, like a distance you haven’t achieved yet or a crazy exercise that has been too difficult to complete. Write down your goal and set your plan. Tick off each day you stick to and make note of your progress.