5 Ways to Keep Active This Winter
by Osteopath, Melissa McDougall
After one of the best Melbourne summer’s- the weather right now is hardly a call to the outdoors.
But getting outside and staying active during winter is an important part of looking after your physical and mental health and ‘Greenspace’ exposure is associated with numerous health benefits.
Greenspace is the term used to describe undeveloped land with natural vegetation, although it also exists in many other forms such as urban parks and public open spaces as well as street trees and greenery.
Health benefits associated with Greenspace exposure include:
- Reduced stress responses: reductions in diastolic blood pressure, salivary cortisol and heart rate.
- Reduced risk of some chronic disease including diabetes and cardiovascular mortality.
And even if your prefer to do activity indoors, exercise alone is great for your mental health.
Exercise is recommended by every health professional in the world. Undisputedly, regular physical activity contributes to the primary and secondary prevention of several chronic diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, depression and osteoporosis) and is associated with a reduced risk of premature death.
Most people would expect there is a graded linear relation between the volume of physical activity and health status, (i.e the more exercise you do, the healthier you are) which is true.
But did you know the greatest improvements in health status are seen when people who are least fit become physically active??
If that’s not a motivating intro, we don’t know what is!
Here are our top 5 tips fo staying active in the winter:
Don’t just ‘wait and see’ how you feel and decide to exercise then. When it’s dark till after 7am and dark before 6pm- that is never going to happen! Step by step:
- Write up a weekly timetable- put all your work, personal and other tasks
- Find 3 x 30 minute window a week. It doesn’t matter when. These will be your ‘activity windows’.
- Write up some activities for when you are tired- like walking or stretching. Also plan or sign up for some stronger activity – like a in-studio pilates class, or an online strength training class…
- When your activity window comes around- you can choose from your list of activities- but you have to do something… no matter how you feel! Trust us, you’ll feel better after.
- Add more activity windows- or increase their duration once you get in the rhythm.
Invest in waterproof, warm clothes.
Rain isn’t going to hurt you! It can be quite beautiful to walk, run or exercise in the rain if your clothes are keeping you warm and dry. Take advantage of the financial year sales and get a good rain jacket!
Time outdoor rainy day activities close to a home so you can have a warm shower and jump into so dry clothes as soon as you get in.
Choose an exercise you like.
Think running is better that walking? or going to the gym is better than yoga? Different forms of exercise have different health benefits – but one of the most important aspects of exercise is consistency – and you won’t be consistent if the form of exercise you are doing is not enjoyable! So try lots of things until you find something you like … and suits your body. If you have started something new and are experiencing pain, talk to your osteopath for a recovery plan.
Check the forecast.
This is a great way to get outdoors for exercise in the nice weather. You may walk to next the train-stop (instead of taking the train closest to your home), or plan a lunchtime workout in the local park (instead of online / inside) and enjoy all those Greenspace benefits!
Join a class with a friend or work colleague. Exercise when your kids are at sports training… maybe ask another parent to join you. It will keep you both warm, and fit! What a great example for your kids too 🙂
Our osteopaths are always happy to prescribe you an exercise program to complement our treatment, help you stay fit and pain free. Book in for a consult this winter to get started!
We hope this helps you get back to activity and feel great 🙂
Warburton D, Nicol C, Bredin S. (2006). Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 174(6), 801-809. DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.051351
Twohig C, Bennett AJ. (2018) The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes. Environmental Research, 166, 628-637.