Staying fit, mentally and physically, over Winter


Do you find yourself in hibernation mode over winter? But by the same token sometimes feel a bit claustrophobic staying indoors all the time? Me too. The streets, beaches, parks and the forests are still open, but they are a little less appealing in cold and dark weather. Even driving to an indoor gym becomes a struggle when all around you are in sloth mode. No one is pretending it’s easy in winter to stay physically and mentally fit but it’s worth the effort. Getting outside when possible is an important element. It has taken me a few years, but I have definitely now found a few tricks that I am happy to share. I really struggle in winter so believe me, I have put the time and effort in!

Set a goal

In 2018 my goal was to run for 7 consecutive days over Christmas. This was unusual for me as I normally run a few times a week but rarely on successive days. Most of these runs I did outside and while they were challenging, I enjoyed them, and somehow my pace improved a bit. When you’re in the house all day you can get stagnant. Coming back from a run or walk in the freezing cold gives you a new appreciation for your warm house, hot shower and settling back on the couch.

This year, all going well, I will be running my 100th parkrun on December 28th, so that is my goal for 2019. It means I can’t miss a parkrun, including the one on Christmas Day. That will be my motivation to keep going. 2018 was the first year my local parkrun (Malahide) had a Christmas day event. It was great and 334 people ran.

Continue your normal fitness  routine

Go to the gym on Christmas eve if that floats your boat and don’t let anyone else’s opinion sway you. If cycling is your thing, or whatever your sport or activity is, head out as normal if it suits your schedule and your other commitments and get it done. If your Zumba or yoga class is cancelled get onto YouTube.

You might get called obsessed or fanatical, let it go over your head. Sometimes people around you get resentful that they don’t have your motivation or discipline and you are actually making them feel bad about themselves, and that’s why they criticize and judge you. Ignore them. If you need your endorphins to feel good like I do, then why stop. My gym was packed last Christmas eve so there are always like-minded people out there.

Add in something different

One way to make the holidays and indeed winter itself more bearable is to do something season specific that you can’t do in spring or summer. For me, it’s ice skating. I was terrible at it as a child and I’m terrible at it now! But it’s so fun and a great quadricep (front of upper leg) workout. I literally can’t walk the next day! The ice-skating rinks near where I live are pop-ups, so I can’t go in summer even if I wanted to. Maybe for you, it’s winter sea swimming, hot yoga or you go on a winter holiday to ski or snowboard.

Get out of the house

In case you didn’t know, being outside in nature is a proven way to lift your mood. So, if you are not already a regular exerciser and reading this so far has made you want to go for a lie down, commit to walking instead. Get a pedometer or app on your phone and pledge to do 10,000 steps every day no matter what. Just get outside every day. Which bring me on nicely to my last tip.

Vitamin D supplements

According to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, between November and March, there is insufficient quality and quantity of sunlight in Ireland to enable the required level of vitamin D to be produced by the body. So, it’s definitely worth getting some supplements. I take them year round now to be honest, its just part of my morning routine.

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