The mornings are getting colder, and the days are getting shorter — winter is almost here. Exercise is critical for your health and wellbeing all year round, and there’s no doubt that it becomes more difficult to muster up the motivation to hit the gym during winter.
Exercising during the colder months of the year also requires a different approach to ensure that you protect yourself from possible injury. Continue reading to see what the team at Freedom Sports Medicine, leading physios in Mooroolbark, recommends to keep your body moving in a safe and proactive manner.
Warm up properly
You should always warm up before exercise, particularly during winter when cold weather can reduce the ability of your body to respond to signals. Warming up not only diminishes your risk of injury but makes your workout more effective.
What your warm up looks like will depend on the type of exercise you are engaging in. Generally speaking, you should start by engaging your major muscle groups. If, for example, you’re planning to go for a run, commence your workout by completing a brisk 5 minute walk to warm up your hamstrings and quadriceps.
You can then stretch particular problem areas or muscles you might be focusing on throughout your workout.
If you have a history of injury, it’s a good idea to speak with a physiotherapist about how you can tailor your warm up to reduce the risk of hurting yourself again.
Wear appropriate clothing
Exercising in winter is all about layers. The last thing you want is to catch a cold while trying to look after your body!
Compression tights are an excellent way to keep your blood moving and reduce the amount of skin exposed to the external elements. If you’re exercising outdoors, consider thick socks, gloves, and a beanie to protect your extremities.
Be smart and strategic
If you’re exercising outdoors and do get caught in the rain, have a warm shower and replace your clothes as soon as possible.
Alternatively, consider other forms of exercise you might try that don’t involve braving the elements. Winter could be the perfect time to join the gym! Or maybe try an indoor social sport with friends.
Follow a healthy diet
You should enjoy a diet rich in fruit, veggies, and whole grains regardless of the weather. However, in winter, it becomes so much more important to indulge in immune-boosting foods.
Not only will these food sources protect you from getting sick, they can also strengthen bones and muscles, reducing your risk of injury when exercising.
Be aware of your limitations
This is true all year round but particularly in winter when the decreased temperatures often equal increased risk of injury.
If you have a pre-existing injury or condition that prevents you from participating in certain activities, don’t push your body too hard. The last thing you want is to end up on the couch for six weeks, unable to even go for a walk. Speak to a physio in Mooroolbark about your concerns — they may be able to recommend strength and conditioning exercises to help target problem areas.
Have a goal in mind
If you find yourself groaning and hitting the snooze button as soon as your morning alarm goes off, consider setting yourself a specific exercise goal. This could be as simple as being able to run 3km without stopping. Or perhaps there’s an event coming up — like a triathlon — that you might consider entering.
Having a goal in mind will allow you to structure your exercise and can increase motivation to get out there and get your heart pumping. A physio in Mooroolbark can even help you set out a training plan to maximise performance.
Speak to a physio
Physios aren’t just there to treat injuries. They can provide advice on a broad range of topics, including sporting performance, technique, strength and conditioning, and more. If you are concerned about your level of fitness heading into winter — particularly if this is affected by an old injury or chronic condition you have — consider booking an appointment with a physiotherapist at Freedom Sports Medicine.
Our team of trained and experienced physios can work with you to determine the root cause of your issue and provide a proactive solution that will see you enjoying getting outside and being active — even in the coldest months of the year.