As the change of season brings shorter, colder and wetter days, the idea of replacing your morning run with an extra half-hour in bed or swapping the pool for pyjamas and a night in on the sofa can be very tempting.
Yet evidence shows that when your goal is to be healthier, physical activity is just as important as the food you eat.
Combined with a sensible diet, increasing the amount of exercise you do can lead to a 20% greater weight loss than simply watching what food you eat.
Regular physical activity decreases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and some types of cancer.
Beyond the physical health benefits, being more active can also improve your mood, reduce your risk of depression, boost self-esteem and increase your ability to deal with stress.
So rather than putting your sports gear back in the drawer, here are some tips for staying motivated during the winter:
- Buddy up. Committing to meet a friend at the swimming pool or in the gym will mean you are more likely to stick to your plans. You could always reward yourselves with a lovely coffee or smoothie at the cafe afterward.
- If you feel the cold easily, treat yourself to some new accessories to keep you snug such as warm headbands, fleece gloves and a cosy jacket. Refresh your playlist with some new and energising songs.
- Cold weather means it takes longer for your muscles to warm up, so perform a few warm-up exercises at home to get the blood going before you head outside so that you don’t suffer an injury.
- Warming, veg-packed winter stews are a great way to stick to your healthy eating resolutions Batch cook some casseroles and stock your freezer with your own tastier version of ready meals. Switch lunchtime salads for steaming bowls of soup and cold cereal breakfasts for healthy, comforting porridge.
- Make your social life more active. Try meeting in a park for a 30-minute power walk instead of just heading to a bar or coffee shop when you arrange to see friends.
- Keep the winter blues at bay by getting plenty of sleep. Sleep is scientifically proven to boost your immune system, improve your energy levels and help weight loss by regulating metabolism and appetite.
- If you really can’t face exercising in the rain or cold temperatures, try switching outdoor pursuits for indoor classes at one of our other indoor centres.
- Whatever you choose to do, make it part of your morning routine if possible. Tempting though it is to stay in bed a few minutes longer while it’s still dark outside, you’ll feel more energised throughout the day and you will definitely have earned the right to curl up on the sofa in the evening.