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The wintery workout cure

Early sunsets make it too tempting to stay at home - so try waking early for exercise instead.

Early sunsets make it too tempting to stay at home - so try waking early for exercise instead. Photo: iStockphoto

As autumn turns into winter, our instinct is to either hibernate in front of the TV with our favourite food, or head to the local pub for a few pints.

We all know what happens next - the winter chub wraps itself around our hips and waist.

Shorter days can also affect our moods, and guess what makes you feel better? Exercise. If you move, breathe, and do something with intensity – your mind will benefit.

We all know when the sun shines once more, we'll all want our summer bodies back and the last minute mentality of dieting and joining the gym in November isn't going to cut it.

So get moving, watch the winter beer intake, and by the time the sun returns, you'll be thrilled at the investment you made during the chilly months.

Here are some tips for staying motivated:

Wake Early
Early sunsets make it too tempting to stay at home for a big winter dinner, so try waking early to do exercise instead.

If you can brave the chill and get outdoors or to the gym, you are ahead of the game. Research shows that exercise in the morning is the optimal time to lose fat, and your physical and mental energy throughout the day will improve. If you are put off by the cold, buy some warm, layered gear to keep you warm until your body takes over.

Get Outside
Workouts inside in front of the TV don't cut it. Significant others and kids are wonderful but along with mobile phones and other home comforts, they are an exercise distraction. Hike, jog, or do a bodyweight circuit at a high intensity – but do it outside. The winter sun will help to provide the Vitamin D your body needs to stay fit and help to lift your mood.

Join a Gym

The best part about joining a gym is winter is the steam, sauna, or whirlpool, all providing a warm incentive to drive away those winter blues and it's also a great time of the year to get a cheap membership, with few of the main players are handcuffing you into year-long contracts. Additionally, you can look out for group buyers' daily deals that have some amazing trial offers where you can join a gym for under a $1 per day.

Increase the intensity
Feeling sluggish in winter? Then try something different. Joining group classes at a gym or getting serious in a CrossFit box will get your body moving at a high intensity. Or if you're a regular gym goer, take a break from the gym and try dance classes or an outdoor boot camp. Let your mind and body guide your exercise routine.

To increase the intensity in the gym?
That 30min, 5km/hr treadmill walk won't warm you up, but this high intensity Row-Burpees-Run circuit will:

300 metre row, 15 burpees, 300metre run. Rest 1 minute, and repeat 3 rounds of this circuit. Time your effort, and attempt it 2x per week. Try to beat your effort from the prior session. That is one high intensity cardio circuit.

For the less advanced that might want to exercise at home, try this:

100 jump ropes, 15 bodyweight squats, 15 push ups, 15 situps, and 30 second plank. Try 3-4 rounds for this full body circuit and perform at a comfortable pace.

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18 comments so far

  • I definitely qualify as a "senior citizen". I love winter as I can run 12/15km a day instead of my summer runs of 8/10km. The colder it is, the easier it is.

    mal duxworthy
    Date and time
    June 06, 2012, 5:30PM
    • @mal duxworthy.....I'm so with you....I like winter and its nicer and cooler to run in the morning, I found it easier to run 10km in winter than summer..

      Date and time
      June 07, 2012, 10:50AM
  • Nice story! Lots of excellent inspirational ideas. However, due to lifestyle/time restrictions I have become accomstomed to exercising inside my home, in the loungeroom, for many years. Never am I distracted by "technology" or people. I have maintained a high level of fitness this way. You shouldn't assume that at home exercise "doesnt cut it". That is entirely down to the efforts of an individual. Infact, you should maybe encourage/suggest different indoor at home workouts, as for many many many people, getting away is near impossible.

    Indoor workouts for years
    Date and time
    June 06, 2012, 5:40PM
    • Agree! it is all to do with MOTIVATION. Why waste time and effort going out in this cold weather when inside on a treadmill or a work bench pushing weights is just as beneficial while watching your favourite program on the tele.

      indoor junky
      Date and time
      June 06, 2012, 5:42PM
      • thanks for the article.

        i keep reading that we are to train in the morning, however, i find myself very dehydrated in the mornings and i always (as im sure everyone does) find it a lot harder to train unless im fully hydrated.

        is there a way around this? just drinking a litre before the gym? i have a bottle net to me at night, but i rarely wake up to drink.

        any help would be great!


        Date and time
        June 06, 2012, 5:43PM
        • I get up first thing and drink about 1 litre of water 20 minutes before I go for a run.

          If I forget the drink which I have once or twice, I notice the difference.

          I don't drink anything at night.

          Date and time
          June 06, 2012, 6:28PM
        • Hi af, drinking a litre of water in 20 minutes is useless, 300mls max is all your body could take in 20 minutes,

          Date and time
          June 07, 2012, 7:54AM
        • Training in the morning does not improve your results, you can train any time of the day and you will get the same results.

          Date and time
          June 07, 2012, 7:17PM
      • Some cooler and less sunny parts of the country won't provide you with enough vitamin D during your winter morning exercise, so I'd be largely discounting that from the list of benefits. However, exercising throughout the year is definitely the way to go. Just harden up and get out there!

        Date and time
        June 07, 2012, 8:26AM
        • Doesn't matter when you exercise, it matters what sort of exercise you do, and how much exercise you do. I doubt there are any studies which establish that exercising in the morning inherently burns any more calories than exercise at any other time.

          The key is that it needs to be built into your day, so that it is a habit. If it fits into your day better in the afternoon or evening, do it then.

          It also needs to be enjoyable. I play tennis competitively, swim (in the summer in ocean pools; much more enjoyable), run (in the bush when I can), use my exercise bike outside (a chain-driven, air resistance bike, much more enjoyable to peddle)and occasionally play soccer.

          As far as water goes, this might vary from person to person, but it makes no difference to me whether I drink water or not.

          Date and time
          June 07, 2012, 8:32AM

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