Health: Isn’t it time for a winter warm-up?

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Does the cold snap put you in hibernating mode? Does the thought of exercising during the winter months make you bury yourself deeper under the duvet?

Well, it’s time to snap out of it and join the one in five people who take the recommended 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week.

Regular exercise is key to preventing heart disease and its risk factors but recent studies show that it also improves quality of sleep, leaving you alert the next day. It also ‘trains’ your brain to eat more healthily, avoiding calorie-rich temptations or overeating which are particular challenges during the festive season.

So unfreeze those sedentary habits and treat your heart and body to winter ‘on the move’ with these tips from the experts at Heart Research UK:

l Brisk walking is still a brilliant and easy way to exercise so wrap up warm and explore your neighbourhood and the countryside. An evening walk counting Christmas trees will inspire even the most reluctant walker.

l Instead of cranking up the thermostat, get moving to keep you warm. Go up and down the stairs, clean the house with gusto or do some arm and leg exercises while sitting down.

l Too icy to venture out? Dig that keep-fit DVD out of the cupboard or challenge yourself to some boxing, cycling or other active games on the Wii. Dance away to your favourite tunes and organise an “all styles allowed” competition with no stopping until the track ends.

l Working long days? Get some fresh air and a little vitamin D with a brisk lunch time walk. Treat yourself to an evening swim, a zumba or fitness class and go home with a glow.

l Maximise your weekends and arrange a winter game of rounders, football, cricket or touch rugby. Try ice skating or Nordic skiing for a great heart and leg muscle workout. Snow is a great excuse for an energetic snowball fight, a snowman-building competition or tearing up and down the hill on a sledge.

l Swap screen time for some party games like hide and seek around the house, musical chairs or spin the bottle with exercise forfeits (squats, hops, jumping jacks). Have a pillow fight or indoor ‘snowball’ fight with scrunched up balls of newspaper.