At the risk of stating the obvious – baby, it’s cold outside! There is something about the change of seasons that seems to creep up on us and when it hits in full effect, causes upheaval to our fitness routine. Before we talk about how this can impact our progress, it is worth acknowledging that it is normal for our weight and body shape to experience a level of fluctuation with the seasons. So if you do put on a few kilos over winter, don’t be hard on yourself.
That being said, exercising for health maintenance and fitness goals needs attention and consistency all year round. Dropping off or reducing your commitment during winter can often lead to mistakes and the derailing of our efforts. So what can you be mindful of as the temperature drops to avoid fails and mistakes?
Fail #1: You don’t warm up properly
If you are someone who tends to fast track your movement prep before a workout, pay special attention to this one. In the colder months, our core body temperature will be lower and parts of our body will take longer to warm up, such as our ligaments and muscles. You may need to extend your warm up period and gradually increase your intensity before going full pelt. Doing so will make sure that you avoid injury and are working at the appropriate intensity to support your results.
Fail #2: You don’t drink enough water
When we feel cold, sometimes a big drink of water is the last thing our body is sending us signals for, but proper hydration is still vital. While we do need a little less water when we are colder, when we are dehydrated, we don’t perform optimally and can find it harder to recover. So track your water intake during winter, and still aim for 2-3 litres per day.
Fail #3: You’re not as active throughout the day
During warmer months it is more enticing to engage in active pursuits and incidental exercise as we are more inclined to head outdoors. In winter, the doona and Netflix can be hard to resist! If we break our active routine for too long, our energy levels and fitness will be adversely impacted and we can lose momentum overall. Try tracking your steps to ensure you are still being active. Be open to adjusting the time of day that you train. If mornings are not your jam in the cold, why not try a lunchtime workout?
Fail #4: You don’t look for new, winter-appropriate activities
If you are used to doing an outdoor activity that is harder to pursue in winter, rather than doing less, why not take the opportunity to try something new? Gyms are also a great, temperature controlled environment to train in so make the most of your local fitness facility.
Fail #5: You don’t have a mid-long term goal
Often it is not the weather that can be blamed for our loss of motivation, but more a lack of clarity around suitable goals that will keep us on track during the winter months. If you know your motivation levels suffer in winter, why not set a 3 month goal that will give you the framework for adherence. Think of something you want to achieve and imagine how it will make you feel in the future. Hot tip – if you pick something to do with strength gains, you will most likely be able to take in more calories to support lean muscle growth, which often goes hand in hand with winter social activities we enjoy. If you are unsure, chat to a qualified Personal Trainer who can take you through a goal setting process.
Kate Kraschnefski is the head of compliance and training at the Australian Institute of Fitness, as well as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and nutrition coach.