The snow has now fallen and it looks like there are going to be some chilly days in store for us Brits. Don’t let the cold snap stop you from working out and releasing those endorphins (no matter how tempting)! Our health and fitness experts have listed the top 10 ways to stay motivated about working out during the cold weather as well as keeping your joints and muscles healthy and strong…
1.Work out with friends or join an online community
Snow fall and icy-cold winds can definitely knock your motivation down but falling out of your exercise regime can dampen your motivation even further. Why not try working out with friends or joining an online community for that added motivational support? “Being with others who are going through the same journey helps keep you motivated and accountable. If it’s not possible to exercise with friends directly, then try an online workout programme that has a Facebook or similar group you can join so you can share your progress and challenges with others,” suggests Nutritionist and Fitness Instructor Cassandra Barns.
2. Keep your feet snug
“During the winter months our extremities, such as our feet tend to suffer the most from the cold. It’s really important to keep your feet well insulated during this time. Unfortunately, woolly socks may keep our feet warm, but they tend to make our feet sweat more,” explains Carnation Footcare Podiatrist, Michael Ratcliffe.
“For toasty, fresh feet I would recommend Carnation Footcare’s Silversocks (£12, www.firstaidfast.co.uk). Silversocks are made with pure silver threads. These unique fibres act as a natural heat thermostat, regulating foot temperature and helping to keep toes toasty when the temperature drops. The silver will not wash out or lose its thermal and antibacterial properties over time, so will keep your feet warm from winter to winter,” adds Michael.
3. Layer up
Ensure you dress in comfortable layers, which you can take off once you start to warm up your body. “Loose layers trap body heat and help to warm up your joints. Be careful not to overdress though, as once you warm up if you have too many layers on, you can become overheated,” suggests Cassandra.
4. Ease your muscle pain
The icy wind can make your joints stiff and your muscles ache. Protein helps to repair muscle tissues and aids in maintaining strong bones. To help boost your protein intake, try a post-run smoothie with a spoonful of Vegan Power Meal by Natures Plus (£36.75, www.naturesplus.co.uk). Martina Della Vedova, nutritionist at Natures Plus explains, “The Vegan Power Meal is an organic certified blend of plant derived proteins with the addition of vitamins and minerals coming directly from real whole foods to make it a complete support.”
5. Swap your run for a fitness class
If you don’t feel like running through snow fall at freezing temperatures, mix up your routine and try a fitness class instead at your local gym or community centre. “Exercising with others in a class is motivating and fun, especially if there’s great music too. When you try a class, give it two or three chances before you decide whether you want to continue or move on to something else: sometimes it takes a few weeks to start to learn the moves, feel comfortable and really get to love it,” explains Cassandra Barns.
6. Up your omega intake
The cold weather can cause your joints to be stiffer than usual and your muscles to be tighter than normal. The omega-3 fatty acids are important for tissue elasticity, muscle flexibility, joint motion and regulating inflammatory response. Ensure you are including good fats in your diet such as salmon, avocado and dark green leafy vegetables. It could also be wise to include a daily supplement such as NHP’s Omega 3 Support (£29.77, www.naturalhealthpractice.com) to reduce inflammation and boost antioxidant capacity.
7. Ensure you warm-up
“In the winter months, make sure to take a longer warm-up than you normally do during the warmer months. This will help your muscles ease into your workout and help to prevent injuries, such as tears and pulls,” advises Cassandra.
8. Eat every three hours
“Try to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable by eating regularly. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a snack mid-morning and one mid-afternoon, with no longer than three hours between. I’d also suggest that you should try not to eat carbohydrates after 6pm,” suggests Dr Marilyn Glenville, Leading UK Nutritionist (www.marilynglenville.com).
9. Embrace good foot hygiene
“It’s crucial to keep your feet clean and dry to avoid conditions such as athlete’s foot, which can lead to sore, itchy and flaky skin on your feet. If not treated the complaint can spread to other areas of your foot and toenails,” advises Michael.
Wash your feet daily with a mild soap (and particularly after each run) drying gently and carefully, especially between the toes. Apply an emollient foot cream to lock in the skin’s natural moisture, especially in cold weather. Try to not use scalding hot water when washing, as this can damage the lipid layer on your skin leading to further drying – use warm water even if your feet are very cold.
10. Keep your energy levels up
The cold winter weather and lack of sunshine can often leave us feeling tired and unmotivated. So, ensure you are eating a balanced, healthy diet in order to provide your body with the correct nutrients it needs to perform. “This includes fresh vegetables and fruit, fresh or tinned fish, free-range eggs, unprocessed meats, unroasted nuts and seeds, whole grains such as oats and brown rice, beans and pulses and, for most people, natural dairy products. It means limiting your intake of high-sugar foods, refined foods and most things that come in a packet with a long list of ingredients,” suggests Cassandra.