Staying Fit and Healthy During Winter

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As the nights start to draw in and we get ready to put our clocks back this weekend I’ve recently had a lot of my clients asking me how to keep motivated over the coming winter months or what they do to give a bit of life and energy into their current fitness regime.

This got me thinking about what I do in my own routine to keep myself motivated and the best advice I could give to anyone is simple but classic, it’s about mixing it up or in my terms cross training – not the equipment but ensuring you mix up your modalities or what you do.

To keep motivation levels high it’s really important to change it up to ensure you don’t get stuck in the same old routine, if you like going out on long runs or out on the your bike then why not avoid getting wet outside and change things up slightly by going to your local swimming pool. Swimming can still give you a great workout, offering something no other aerobic exercise does: the ability to work your body without harsh impact to your skeletal system. Therefore it allows you do more with less.

Morning training is another great way to keep motivation levels high, as I said in my last article ‘Wake up with energy’, flip your day on its head. If you enjoy going to the gym then why not start going in the morning or start attending classes that way you can avoid having to think about and plan exactly what you should be doing in the gym, but instead you can let a trained professional do their job.

Having a personal trainer over the winter can also be a great way to change your routine and keep motivation levels at their highest. Everyone is different; everyone has different goals, having a qualified personal trainer, over what can be a difficult period for some (I’m sure most of us would be lying if we didn’t want just cosy up by a fire and eat comfort food all day), means that you’ve got someone who’s able to nurture those needs and goals, who’s on your side wanting to give their best professional advice.

The benefits of having a personal trainer can also include getting you to think about what you are doing in your fitness regime in a slightly different way. Whilst I realise that not everyone can afford to have a personal trainer, having a gym partner in some cases can work just as well for your motivational levels. By having someone with you who perhaps has similar goals means that you bounce ideas off each other as well as supporting one another.

Education is key and having a professional teach you what you can implement in the drier months is of great advantage. Most of us find a comfortable level of training and with comfort comes laziness. A trainer can push you out of your comfort level and improve on your foundation levels of fitness and get you those performance gains you deserve. It’s also nice not to over think and on occasions being told what to do, away from your partner is a great thing.

One thing we tend to forget about, which is perhaps the most important thing to think about, though is not just the training regime itself, over the winter months we can become tired a lot more quickly so it’s about ensuring you spend some time treating yourself and recovering. Taking the time for a deep tissue massage or acupuncture can be vital in keeping up your motivational and energy levels and give you that time to really just relax and let your body heal.

A hands on massage will help remove lactic acid from tight muscles, breaking down tight facia resulting in a better tone in muscle mass and relaxed body of muscle. This in turn can improve future performance, which is especially important if you are in training for a long term goal, like a marathon. Trigger point therapy is something else I also recommend to my clients as its self-guided with ball or from a practitioner and it can release tight spindles of muscle resulting in better body posture and alignment.

As a final point of advice, I’d also suggest it’s that important to think about your nutrition and hydration during the winter. To keep your hydration levels up I would advise my clients to drink fluids during and after training - don’t gulp though, it’s better to take small sips throughout the day. It’s also really important to stop and think about exactly what you are eating, eating to recover is an important part of the process and I would advise that eating a well-balanced diet is most essential to this.

Greg Small is the Head of Membership
 for the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs)

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