Are you a ‘fair weather’ exerciser? It can be really frustrating to work hard on getting fit over the warmer months, only to lose it all in the depths of winter.
Alfred Deakin Professor Jo Salmon, Co-Director of the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) at Deakin University, says if that sounds familiar, you are certainly not alone.
“Research from Australia, Europe and the US shows that season and weather have major effects on people’s physical activity,” Professor Salmon said.
“The majority of studies reveal that people are most active in spring and summer – except for Canadians who do a lot of winter activities like ice skating and skiing.
“Regardless of season, the weather can explain up to 42 per cent of the variance in physical activity across the population, which is a lot.”
While hot days can restrict children’s outdoor play, rainfall is also a major deterrent.
In fact, a study by IPAN researchers using accelerometers to objectively measure physical activity in Australian school children found they were most active in the cooler to mild weather, and the optimal temperature for physical activity was 20 to 22˚C.
So, if you’re looking to maintain or regain your activity levels during winter, Professor Salmon offers the following tips:
- Re-set your goals – winter is for not losing ground on all your hard work
- If the dark mornings are a problem, try indoor activities or workouts, for example push-up and sit-up circuits, or there are lots of free yoga sessions on YouTube
- Increase your incidental activity – create some activity ‘rules’ such as making sure you walk for transport if the trip is under 2 kms away, or stand and move more and sit less at work
- Make sure you have suitable clothing for outdoor activities – go shopping and throw some colour into the active wear kit
- Modify what you do – dial back the time you spend working out, maybe focus on a particular body part or something like core strength
- Try short and more intense circuits outdoors, for example, intersperse your brisk walk with squats or push ups at park benches along the way
- Take care of your mental health – try visualising your physical activity when you wake up in the morning
- Mindfulness and meditation are also key – winter is a mind game
- Have fun – do stuff that puts a smile on your face, book yourself and some friends into a fun activity or have weekend card games and create fun but physical penalties for losing like push-ups or a 30-second plank
- Be ready to change it up – don’t let wet weather stop you, make sure you have a Plan B
(Source: Deakin University)