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Body

8 reasons to get fit this winter

Do you find it hard to keep motivated in the cold weather?

Four fitness experts give their tips for making the most of winter exercise

1. Warm up well to avoid injury

Tim Allardyce, consultant physiotherapist at Surrey Physio, says: “The risk of injury can be higher when exercising in the cold, because the joints and muscles take more time to warm up. So start more slowly, take things easy, and build up your temperature when you start exercising to prevent muscle pulls or strains.”

2. Work hard but for less time

If you exercise outdoors in the colder months you usually have to work harder but for less time, says Tim. “You tend to expend more energy exercising when it’s cold so that can make your exercise sessions more efficient and shorter, as you burn more calories.”

3. Use exercise to control your weight

It’s all too tempting to hibernate and turn to comfort food in winter. The average person puts on up to 4kg, says Jenna Cole, health and fitness tutor at The Training Room. “The only way to make up for those added treats is to increase the amount of exercise you’re doing. Try to balance your energy in and energy out, then the shedding of clothes in spring won’t be such a shock.”

4. Invest time now to look great next summer

“What people don’t realise is that to look good in the summer they really need to be exercising all winter,” says Keith McNiven, founder of London-based personal training company Right Path Fitness. “Yes, you can achieve a lot in a couple of months, but just imagine what you could achieve in nine months.”

5. Exercise to keep your immune system healthy

“Research has shown time and again that regular exercise strengthens your immune system, so it can fight off bacterial and viral infections,” says Jenna Cole. “This becomes particularly important in winter when colds and flu rear their ugly heads.”

6. Get moving to banish the winter blues

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can be an issue for around one in 15 of us during the winter months. “When the dark mornings come it becomes increasingly hard to get motivated,” says Jocelyn Maxfield, founder of sportswear company La Vostra. “So working out in the winter helps fight SAD, as exercise boosts those feel-good endorphins which elevate your mood and make you feel happier.”  

 7. Use the winter to mix up your routine

“If you’d rather stay indoors, why not use the winter months to learn a new skill you can add to your workout repertoire, such as boxing or yoga, to give your training an added edge?” says Keith McNiven. “Keeping your training new and exciting helps you to maintain an enthusiasm for it.”

8. Make the most of the weather

Cross-country skiing or snowboarding are both “a great way of engaging pretty much all the muscle groups and require some serious endurance,” says Jenna Cole. But if that sounds too strenuous, how about a team snowball fight? “It can be a great way to get in some light-to-moderate cardio during the winter,” she adds. “You combine short bursts of running that give your legs a good workout with throwing motions that engage the arms and the core, which makes for a decent workout.”

The experts:

Tim Allardyce, consultant physiotherapist at Surrey Physio 

Jenna Cole, health and fitness tutor at The Training Room  

Jocelyn Maxfield, founder of sportswear company, La Vostra 

Keith McNiven, founder of London-based personal training company at Right Path Fitness 

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