Are you experiencing a dip in your energy levels or feeling more tired than usual this month? Well if so, you are not alone. The winter weather can result in some noticeable physical effects on our bodies because the brain produces more melatonin making us feel sleepy.
Furthermore, increased exposure to darkness can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm. This circadian biological clock is controlled by a part of the brain that responds to light and dark signals. And in the winter months, this rhythm becomes more predominant to our senses, which can make some feel tired. In fact, it can also affect our sleep cycles, eating habits and body temperatures.
One of the best ways to combat this tiredness and regulate our body clocks is to stay active throughout the winter months.
Staying active in winter
Yes, we know! It is so much harder to get out of the bed or leave the comfy sofa to go exercise in winter. We have a tendency to want to hibernate in the cold but if you can maintain your level of fitness through these months, it will help boost your energy when you need it most.
As well as helping you look and feel healthier and help combat tiredness. Exercise can even protect against seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which is estimated to affect 1 in 15 people in Ireland.
If you enjoy exercising outdoors and want to continue it into winter, keep doing it when it is safe to do so. You can even burn more calories, as research has shown a peptide called sarcolipin is activated when our bodies exercise in cold temperatures, which helps us burn more fat.
Just make sure to:
- Warm-up correctly to avoid the risk of injury. A dynamic warm-up will help increase blood flow and temperature in the muscles.
- Layer up with a thin base made of synthetic fabric, a middle layer made of fleece and an outer layer that is wind and waterproof. Remove the layers as you heat up to avoid overheating and dehydration.
- Protect your extremities with a hat and gloves, protect your skin with SPF and your eyes with sunglasses. The sun can be more intense in winter which can put you at risk of UVB damage so limit exposure to the winter elements.
- Stay hydrated!!
Taking your workout indoors
However, in winter it’s not realistic to keep training outdoors as often as you would like. So why not take to the gym to stay active and warm?
When running outdoors becomes more of a risk this winter and you want to take some or all of your workouts indoors, hop on the treadmill instead. This type of running differs from road running in that most find their pace on the treadmill is faster.
One reason for this is because the treadmill belt assists in leg turnover. However, cross-training on the treadmill can help reduce your overall risk of injury, reduce your recovery time and can help you maintain your overall running fitness through winter. And furthermore, research has shown that runners who cross-train using the indoor bike can build strength and power in major leg muscles to improve their running form.
If you enjoy outdoor rowing and don’t want to make a dent in your rowing fitness this winter, consider taking your workout indoors to the gym. The benefit of indoor rowing is you have the ability to control the resistance of the machine, meaning you can customise your workout. This will help you improve your cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength and engage the lower body too.
Hiking is fun but the snowy peaks can make it a challenging exercise to enjoy throughout winter. While some places are hike-friendly year-round, the majority of trails in Ireland are only safe until mid-November. Furthermore, it’s hard to enjoy the breathtaking views if you’re struggling with your aerobic fitness.
So, why not take your workout indoors this winter and you’ll be fit enough to tackle your next challenge in mid-spring. Hit the treadmill in the gym or the indoor bike to get your heart rate up and build your lung capacity. Or try the Stairmaster to work your cardio endurance and train your climbing muscles.
If you are a cycling enthusiast, the icy roads and darker evenings can make it an unsafe and uncomfortable activity throughout winter. But trust us you are going to get a great cardiovascular workout with indoor cycling. In fact, did you know in a typical cycling class you maintain approximately 75% to 95% of your maximum heart rate?
If taking a class, your instructor will execute a balance between cardio and resistance work on the bikes and keep you motivated to the end. At Gym Plus, you can even take a Les Mills Virtual Cycling class at a time when suits you. Available at regularly scheduled times throughout the day or on-demand off-peak.
Work on lowering your handicap when the temperature drops this winter by taking your workout indoors. Frozen hands and muddy fairways are never fun so why not aim to improve your strength and flexibility over the colder months in the gym. These exercises will increase the range of motion, strength and power in your hips. So you’ll gain increased stability through the swing and have better control.
Focusing on exercises that target the muscles most used when playing golf – the core, hips and thoracic spine – will prevent strain on the lower back and improve overall balance too. Exercises such as lateral lunges, front planks, side planks, push-ups and squats.
In addition, classes such as Yoga, Pilates and Stretch and Mobilise will help golfers improve their mobility, balance and core strength as well as build awareness of muscular imbalances and help prevent injury.
Relieving your sore muscles
Furthermore, for all exercisers, swimming can alleviate stress on the muscles and relieve muscle pain. The water’s buoyancy counteracts the effects of gravity which reduces the pressure on the body’s weight-bearing joints. And the warm water is a great way to relax and unwind!
If you are interested in maintaining your fitness and taking some or all of your workout indoors this winter, grab a guest pass and chat to our trainers about customising your training to suit your requirements.
Black Friday Offer: Join Gym Plus online and pay no joining fee (Offer valid from Monday, November 25 to Sunday, December 1st inclusive). Simply use the code BlACKFRI when joining online.