Places Pointer: Staying active in winter

Don’t leave your health in the cold

When the temperature drops, exercise can often feel like the last thing you want to get done, especially if it’s outdoors. Sometimes keeping fit only feels doable during other times of the year when the weather is warmer.

Then come the shorter days and the impact they can have on our overall wellbeing and fitness. Darkness reduces your levels of serotonin and dopamine – our natural mood stabilisers – which can lead to shifts in alertness and changes in mood.

We can’t help the change in season, but there are things you can do to maintain your motivation and make staying active a little easier.

We’ve got some ways to help you adapt:

Try virtual workouts

Whether you go to the gym, take a dip in the pool, or are a regular at one of our fitness classes, it can be tricky to squeeze in a workout once the festivities begin.

This is where virtual workouts can help. On our app, Places Tracker (formerly Places Locker), you can access a range of virtual classes via the Virtual Studio which are led by our own instructors. These will also come in handy when our centre hours vary between Christmas and the new year!

Two Column Virtual Workout (1)

Eat mindfully

When you’re tired and looking for a quick boost of energy, your body naturally craves foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates.

While every food group is great to eat in moderation, it can be fairly easy to get ahead of cravings by creating meal plans with more nutrient-rich foods.

Get outside during the day

If you don’t feel comfortable exercising while it’s dark, try to get some movement in while it’s still light outside.

Government guidelines currently advise that adults should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, which is just over 20 minutes a day. This could work out as doing a quick workout at the gym, or going for a couple of 10-minute walks a day. Research has shown that going for a midday walk may even help you feel more productive and alert!

Make it social

If you’re stuck in an exercise rut, it’s helpful to have some company along the way. When yourself and a friend who’s at the same fitness level encourage each other, you’ll each have more fun and work harder. It’s a win-win!

Once you’ve planned to work out together, you’re also less likely to skip the workout as they’re counting on you to show up.

Prioritise low impact workouts

Melatonin, the hormone that plays a role in the sleep-wake cycle, is produced a lot more during the darker days, which can lead many of us to feel more tired.

When you’re lacking motivation but still want to keep fit, slower exercises can be easier to commit to. You’re more likely to stick to a workout if it’s something that fits into your lifestyle and you enjoy it! Some low-impact workouts include pilates, swimming, or yoga.

Two Column Group Fitness

Now’s the time to get a plan in place on how to keep moving during the colder months. Rather than doing all or nothing, try to adapt your current fitness plan using the tips above so that you can continue to stay active. Don’t forget to celebrate the small wins!

Sources: 5 Surprising Ways Shorter Days Affect Your Brain (Northwestern Medicine) | Rowers’ high: behavioural synchrony is correlated with elevated pain thresholds (The Royal Society of Publishing) | Physical activity guidelines for adults aged 19 to 64 (NHS) | Enhancing daily well-being at work through lunchtime park walks and relaxation exercises: Recovery experiences as mediators. (American Psychological Association)

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