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Embrace the Cold: How to Stay Active and Healthy Throughout Winter Down Under

June 27, 2024 5 min read

Embrace the Cold: How to Stay Active and Healthy Throughout Winter Down Under-VPA Australia

Winter's frosty grip can entice us to curl up under a blanket with a mug of (VPA’s) hot cocoa, putting our fitness goals on hold. But staying active during the colder months is crucial for maintaining both physical and mental well-being. Here's how to create a winter wellness routine that keeps you energised, healthy, and ready to greet spring with a smile.


Sleep: The Foundation of Winter Wellness

A good night's sleep is the cornerstone of good health, and winter presents unique challenges. Shorter days disrupt our circadian rhythm, the body's natural sleep-wake cycle, making it harder to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Here are some tips to ensure you're getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night:

  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body's internal clock  
  • Embrace the light: Maximise exposure to bright light during the day, especially in the morning. Open curtains as soon as you wake up or consider using a light therapy lamp.
  •  Wind down before bed: Create a relaxing bedtime routine that signals to your body it's time to wind down. Take a warm bath, read a book, or practice calming stretches.
  • Optimise your sleep environment: Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in blackout curtains and earplugs if necessary.
  • Limit screen time before bed: The blue light emitted from electronic devices can suppress melatonin production, a hormone that regulates sleep. Avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime.

Exercise: Keeping Your Body Moving All Winter Long

Although Australia's winter may be milder than some, it can still be a deterrent to outdoor exercise. The benefits of regular exercise are well-documented, and they're especially important during winter. Exercise boosts the immune system, making it hard for you to catch the flu or colds. It also improves mood and helps regulate sleep. But how do you stay motivated when the outdoors is frosty, and the gym seems less appealing?

Outdoor Activities:  

  • Embrace the Sunshine: Australia is known for its sunshine, so take advantage of it! Go for a brisk walk, jog, or bike ride during the warmest part of the day.
  • Hit the Beach: While swimming might not be for everyone in winter, beach walks are a fantastic way to get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air. The soft sand adds an element of challenge to your walk, strengthening your leg muscles.
  • Park Workouts: Local parks offer a variety of possibilities. Find a park with exercise equipment and do a bodyweight circuit, play a game of frisbee with friends, or join your local bootcamp classes outdoors, or a cool new run club!
  • Surfing:Winter is prime surfing season in many parts of Australia. Whether you're a seasoned surfer or a curious beginner, hitting the waves is a fantastic way to get exercise and enjoy the beauty of the ocean. Just remember to dress appropriately and prioritise safety.

  • Hiking Adventures:Many national parks and trails remain open throughout winter. Hiking or bushwalking is a great way to explore the outdoors, get some fresh air, and enjoy the scenery. Choose trails appropriate for the weather conditions and dress in layers for changing temperatures.

Indoor Activities:

  • Hit the Gym:Gyms offer a climate-controlled environment with a variety of equipment and classes to fit any fitness level. Group fitness classes like Zumba or HIIT can be a fun way to break a sweat, while weight training builds muscle and strength.
  • Pool Workouts: Indoor pools are a fantastic option for year-round exercise. Swimming is a low-impact, full-body workout that's easy on the joints. Participate in a water aerobics class or simply swim laps for a refreshing workout.
  • Home Workouts: No gym membership? No problem! Plenty of online resources offer free workout videos for all fitness levels. You can also create your own bodyweight circuit using furniture or household items. Exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks require minimal equipment and are highly effective.
  • Dance it Out: Turn on your favourite music and unleash your inner dancer! Dancing is a fun, low-barrier way to get some exercise. You can freestyle in your living room or follow along with online dance tutorials.
  • Indoor Rock Climbing: Indoor climbing gyms offer a challenging and rewarding workout. They cater to all skill levels, from complete beginners to experienced climbers.

Remember:

  • Dress appropriately: No matter the activity, dress in layers for outdoor workouts in winter. Thermal wear will keep you warm, while outer layers can be removed as you warm up. Wear proper footwear for the conditions, especially when walking or hiking on slippery surfaces.
  • Stay hydrated:It's easy to forget to drink water during winter, but staying hydrated is crucial for overall health and exercise performance. Aim for 8 glasses of water per day and consider incorporating herbal teas or warm broths for additional hydration.
  • Sun Safety:While the sun's rays may be weaker in winter, it's still important to protect yourself. Wear sunscreen and a hat for outdoor activities.
  • Making Exercise a Habit: Consistency is key, so choose an activity you find fun and engaging. You're more likely to stick with a routine if you look forward to it.
  • Set realistic goals:Start with short, manageable goals and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts as your fitness improves.
  • Find a workout buddy: Having a friend to exercise with can provide motivation, accountability, and make workouts more enjoyable.
  • Track your progress: Monitor your progress using a fitness tracker or a simple journal. Seeing your improvement can fuel your motivation.

Diet: Fueling Your Body for Winter Wellness

Just like your car needs the right fuel for optimal performance, your body needs the right nutrients to stay healthy and active during winter. Here's what to focus on:

  •  Seasonal Produce: Winter offers a bounty of delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables. Stock up on citrus fruits rich in vitamin C, dark leafy greens packed with vitamins A and K, and root vegetables like sweet potatoes and beets, excellent sources of fiber and antioxidants.
  • Warm, Comforting Foods: Don't shy away from warm, comforting meals. Soups, stews, and chili are perfect for winter nights. Use lean protein sources like chicken, fish, or lentils and plenty of vegetables to create hearty and nutritious dishes.
  • Don't Skip Healthy Fats: Healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts, and seeds are essential for maintaining energy levels and supporting overall health.
  • Limit Processed Foods: Processed foods are typically high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and sodium. Opt for whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.


Winterising your Mindset

Focus on the benefits: Remind yourself of the positive effects of staying active during winter. Exercise boosts energy levels, improves mood, and helps combat the winter blues.

Embrace the challenge: View winter as an opportunity to challenge yourself and try new things. Take this opportunity to try out cold exposureor learn a new skill such as ice skating and other outdoor sports with the family.

Celebrate small victories: Acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. Completing a brisk walk on a cold day or sticking to your healthy eating goals are all victories worth celebrating.

By incorporating these tips and strategies, you can transform winter from a season of hibernation into a period of invigorating activity and self-care. So, bundle up, get moving, and make the most of the beautiful winter wonderland that surrounds you!

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