Don’t wait for the spring sunshine and higher temperatures to re commence exercise or continue being active.
Winter conditions; low light, grey skies, low temperatures, dark mornings etc may in fact be beneficial for your activity levels. Dutch researchers at Maastricht University found that regular exercise in cold weather increases the energy expenditure – even in your usual activities. They used 30 minutes walking daily as an example. They concluded that the cold air stimulates the body to use more fuel to increase and maintain body temperature.
Likewise Scandinavian research found swimming in winter (2-3 times per week) significantly elevated white blood cell count. The cells are a vital marker of the protective immune defence system, which the body uses to fight off bugs, germs and viruses.
Benefits of winter exercise:
Vitamin D – while much of Australia does still get enough sunlight in the middle of the day to be a source of Vitamin D we should take advantage of the ability to be active outdoors. This is still the best natural source of Vitamin D – over supplementation.
Refresh- fresh air can have an impact on wellbeing, mood and outlook along with the physical benefits of exercise. There is a revitalising factor to be in brisk fresh conditions- just be prepared with the correct attire.
Feel Good chemicals – Low mood caused by low light conditions – known as SAD, can impact certain individuals in more southern areas in winter. This is due to the shorter days and low level of powerful sunlight in lower latitudes. Exercise can have a benefit to release endorphins and balance this effect.
Early Mornings? – Dark cold mornings make it less appealing to get up before work to exercise. But a major fitness tracker brand (Fitbit) has analysed several hundred thousand user uploads to find that the most consistent exercisers in their population were those that were active between 6am and 8am. So don’t be put off by winter mornings and get de-railed! Dress well, warm up and get moving as there are a multitude of benefits…