Working off the Winter Blues: Tips on Staying Fit This Winter

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By Cayla Clement

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 6 of VARSITY News.

 

Exercising and staying active during the year is hard enough before you add cold weather, warm beds and comfort food into the mix.  Finding the motivation to work out becomes even harder. Keeping fit during the cold months is as important as keeping fit during the pleasant months. We as humans tend to want to eat more, move less and hibernate when it’s cold outside. However, we are not bears and the weight can quickly creep up on you, especially after too many hot chocolates and warm comfort meals.

 

Over and about improving and maintaining your overall health, exercise can also naturally warm up your body and counteract the ‘winter blues’, or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), which can make many people feel depressed and more inclined to recluse indoors. At least 45 minutes of exercise a day can prevent or help ease any stress by releasing feel-good hormones, making winter a more pleasant time of year.

 

When it is raining or far too cold to do your usual run around the block, here are indoor workout ideas to make sure you’re staying fit:

  • Head to the gym. If you are not a member of UCT’s gym then you may also consider Virgin Active and a few other local gyms, which offer student discounts for their memberships. A gym is an affordable way to keep warm and fit- you can even swim in their heated pools!
  • Home workout videos are a great option for when you don’t feel like stepping foot outside. You can search Youtube for just about any type of workout video from strength, cardio, and yoga. Not only can you work out in the comfort of your warm room, but you can also tailor the length and difficulty of your routine.
  • Many UCT sports societies host different team sports indoors during the winter, such as netball, squash, tennis, and volleyball. If you aren’t up for committing to a society, you can join a res sports team, find a group of friends and use the sports facilities available around campus or simply Google search sports clubs that meet in your area.

 

If you do opt to run or cycle outdoors regardless of the weather, there are a few tips to keep it pleasant:

  • Dress waterproof and warm. Wear materials such as polyester or nylon to keep your skin and clothing dry to avoid feeling colder than you need to.
  • Layer your clothing. Wear the polyester or similar material first, then if the weather is really cold, add a middle layer of clothing, and finally add a garment like a windbreaker to protect against rain.
  • Protect your skin and extremities from the cold. Put on a moisturizer to prevent skin from drying out and drink plenty of water to keep your skin supple. Cover your head and hands with a hat and gloves, and if needed a scarf around your neck. These areas get cold more quickly than the rest of your body.

 

Don’t let the cold winter stop you from keeping fit, de-stressed, and active. Try these different tips and see which ones work for your schedule and your lifestyle. Watch your portions of comfort foods and try to carve out at least half an hour a day to exercise.

 

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