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Keeping your exercise routine going this winter

The fact is, it’s much easier for most of us to keep fit during the summer months. Getting outdoors is so much more appealing, and we’re much more motivated to keep our bodies in shape for the beach or the park. But after a summer of regularly running, cycling, swimming and eating healthy fruit and vegetable based diets, we tend to go into hibernation mode when winter comes. We stay indoors, eat comfort foods and exercise less.

Everyone knows that keeping to a regular routine is one of the most important factors when it comes to working out, and the risk of colds and infections means it’s actually more important to keep working out in winter, not less. Nevertheless it’s easy to slip, and then when longer days begin again we notice the flab around our middles and frantically strive to get back in shape again in time for summer.

It doesn’t have to be this way, and surely it’s better to keep your routine going throughout the year with appropriate seasonal adjustments.

Staying motivated

If it helps, think of your winter routine as training for the summer. Keep summer goals in mind, and enjoy the fact that there’s no immediate pressure to see results. Exercising in a group with friends also helps, and those grueling runs through wind and rain will really bond you together.

Warm up and cool down

Warm-up and cool-down exercises are important at any time of year, but especially so in cold weather. Blood pressure can constrict, thickening the blood and putting you at greater risk of a heart attack. The same can happen if your body temperature changes too quickly. Warm-up exercises like stretching, low-level aerobics and jumping jacks can also prepare you physically and mentally for going outdoors when it’s chilly.

It may help to wear compression garments, which can keep your muscles warm to prevent strain and fatigue. They can also improve oxygenation to working muscles, and prevent chafing and rashes. Men’s compression shorts will help with circulation and support, ease muscle stiffness and can shorten your recovery time after exercising. In addition, the increased flexion and extension in shorts like these- – can help prevent hamstring injuries when warming up.

Move indoors

Winter can be an opportunity to vary your routine and work on different muscle groups, challenging your body in different ways. For instance, if you’re used to running, try working on weights in winter. Alternatively, a good gym can let you continue with your favorite outdoors aerobic exercise through winter, by using a treadmill, cycling machine or climbing wall. You could also invest in installing these things in your own home.

It is possible to continue running or cycling outside in winter with the correct preparation. Wear lots of layers that can be removed as your body temperature increases, but stay visible, and watch for signs of frostbite or hypothermia. Even though the weather is colder, you still need to drink plenty of water.

There really is no reason to slack on your exercise routine this winter. Just remember your body is affected by the cold and prepare accordingly, and you’ll feel fitter and healthier all year round.