As the chillier months set in, the thought of heading out becomes less appealing for many of us. Blustery bike rides, soggy runs, driving back from the gym in the dark… It’s no wonder lots of people lose their fitness mojo over the winter. But I have a sneaky suspicion that people are going to want to do Christmas BIG this year, after the disaster that was the 2020 cancelled Christmas. Obviously rising Covid cases in recent weeks, and good old Omicron, mean that more tentative celebrations might be required. But I know lots of people are still planning gatherings, and there’s certainly a lot more going on than there was this time last year . So if your December diary is already filled to the brim, how do we continue to look after ourselves over the next month or so?
(HINT: Don’t wait until January).
There are so many ways we can keep ourselves healthy over the winter, and I honestly think that getting hot is a great way to start. I am a firm believer that a varied programme of movement and restoration is best for most people, so let me talk you through some of my favourite winter warmers.
- If the upcoming festive season is looking busier than you can remember, then short and sweet home workouts are the best way to keep a routine going. Lots of fitness classes have retained an online component, it seems every second person owns a Peloton nowadays, and there are brilliant apps like the 7-minute workout that offer a really short HIIT session to get the blood flowing and the heart pumping. Remember, it’s quality not quantity that matters. And consistency! Just keep moving your body.
- If you’re not adverse to heading outside, and let’s face it – getting fresh air is really important – then layers are your friend. Whether you’re walking with a mate, going out running, or taking part in an outdoor exercise class, you need to layer up and focus on the extremities. Gloves and a hat (or headband) are really important. Waterproof socks are the best tip I have ever been given! And then a decent base layer followed by t-shirt / hoody / coat, which can then be stripped off one by one as needed.
- Nothing feels better on a chilly winter’s day (or evening) than a hot yoga class. If you do any kind of regular high intensity exercise – be that HIIT or running – it’s important to include some kind of down-training as well. There are a couple of places offering Hot Yoga locally, and there are a variety of sessions from more dynamic Vinyasa to super gentle restorative yoga. Definitely worth trying this out, even if you are a total yoga novice, as a great way to improve flexibility, calm the nervous system (especially at this busy time of year), and literally warm up!
- Getting hot doesn’t always have to involve getting sweaty. We can look after ourselves by remembering to soothe those muscles as well. Going for a massage is a great way to take time out, improve circulation, and help keep your body running tickety-boo. Regular massages aren’t self indulgent, they’re basic self-care, and an important element to include if you do train regularly. I can highly recommend a hot stones massage as a perfect antidote to the November chill.
- Finally, be sure to warm yourself from the inside out. Hydration is always an important part of keeping healthy (and for diluting any extra alcoholic drinks that might feature over the festive season)! So if umpteen glasses of water don’t appeal, lots of herbal teas and hearty soups will keep you toasty.