Why Winter is the Perfect Time to Workout – Honestly
Winter is officially upon us and if you forgot how cold and wet it can be, simply look out the window on your average December day. This is the perfect time of year for cosying up on the sofa and eating hearty meals. Christmas is almost here, and after the year we’ve collectively endured, it won’t be hard to go all in and make the most of family time. However, just because we’re getting homely, it doesn’t mean our overall health and wellbeing need to suffer.
I’ll be the first to admit that when the temperature drops, so does my exercise motivation, but after doing some research, it turns out that workouts during the Winter can offer benefits that you don’t get in the Summer, such as improved endurance. According to Professor Greg Whyte OBE, a world-renowned sports scientist, the optimum temperature for endurance-based exercise is 11 degrees Celsius – thanks to the colder temperatures, your body is less likely to overheat, and thus your stamina is increased. Furthermore, Winter workouts help to:
- Improve symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Many people suffer with SAD, low mood, and mild depression during the long, dark Winter months. Exercise is a natural mood-enhancer, additionally, research shows that Vitamin D, from as little as 15 minutes of sunlight per day, might help with SAD.
- Boost your circulation (and keep your body warm): British Heart Foundation statistics show cardiovascular or circulatory disease remains the UK’s biggest killer, causing over a quarter (27%) of all deaths in the UK each year, the majority of which are due to coronary heart disease and stroke. One of the biggest causes of poor circulation is lack of activity so staying active will keep your heart pumping well, improve your circulation and keep your body warm.
- Maintain your health during flu season: Catching colds and flus at this time of year is almost impossible to avoid, but should you catch one, Winter workouts will strengthen your immune system and help your body fight it.
- Boost overall energy levels: Winter is a dark time, so our bodies produce more melatonin in response. This leads to excessive feelings of fatigue and tiredness with exercise being the last thing we want to do. However, even a short workout or brisk walk will help to raise endorphins and energise you.
- Balance out festive indulgences: A recent Drinkaware UK survey revealed that 60% of drinkers overindulge during the festive season. Even if you are indulging more than normal, staying active and hydrated will help to balance out your body and keep it healthy.
Importantly, wellbeing and fitness are not seasonal, they are longstanding year-round commitments, and essential if you want to live a long and healthy life. Try to find an exercise or activity that you find enjoyable, or workout with family and friends to keep you motivated. When you do exercise, make sure that you warm up beforehand with dynamic stretches, wear layers to keep warm, and cool down afterwards.
Born in Hong Kong and based in London, Sarah Highfield is a leading yoga teacher and writer. She is the founder of Yogagise Yoga, visit her website for more information: www.yogagise.com or follow her on social media: @yogagise.