Staying Active During Winter

As we are getting closer to winter the weather is getting colder, the mornings are darker and the nights come in earlier. It becomes easy to hit the snooze button on the alarm to stay in your warm bed for a bit longer, or curl up under a blanket on the couch at the weekend. All the good habits and routines we develop over the warmer months are often lost.

The World Health Organisation advises that adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. However it becomes increasingly common during winter that people don’t achieve these guidelines, which has a negative effect on our health.

With the cool change I have already been noticing that more people are coming into the clinic reporting symptoms of aching or stiffness that gets worse with cold weather. On discussion with them there is often a pattern of reduced activity. If we are less active this means we are not moving, stretching and loading our body in the way that it needs. As a result our muscles and joints stiffen and our bodies become unaccustomed to activity. Our bodies are designed to move and in order to look after our bodies we need to make this happen!

Aside from increased injury risk, physical inactivity can also contribute to other common health problems including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. It is now being reported that prolonged sitting and inactivity can do you as much harm as smoking can. Keeping active is also extremely important for our mental well-being and so seasonal inactivity can contribute to depression, anxiety and poor quality of sleep.

However it isn’t all bad! This is something that we can change and there are ways of doing this without getting up at 5am in the dark to go for a run in the rain. Here are some easy ways that you can help to keep your body moving over the winter:

  • Find an exercise regime that works for you and if it is something indoors then the weather can’t be an excuse! Some examples could be indoor fitness classes, Pilates, yoga, indoor pool classes (the water is heated!) or talk to one of our Physio’s who can help set you up with a personalised program you can do at home
  • Make the most of the sun. Even amongst the gloomiest of winter days we are lucky enough in Australia that we still see many glimpses of the sun and we need to make the most of these! Heading out for a short walk on your lunch break or when you get home from work will boost your mood, productivity and motivation as well as make your body happy by getting it moving
  • Limit your time in sitting – get up every 30 minutes at work or at home, it doesn’t have to be for long. Even 60 seconds of walking or stretching is enough to break the habit of prolonged sitting
  • Stand up/walk when on the phone – they are called MOBILE phones for a reason. Whether at home or at work use this time to get up
  • Stretch regularly – to help keep stiffness and tightness at bay spend 10 minutes morning or evening (or both) to do some gentle stretching, you will feel better for it!

You are the only one who can look after your body so make the most of it! There are many ways to keep yourself moving over the winter time and all it takes is small changes each day to make a big difference to your health. So get moving!

Allissa King

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