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Exercise Tips to Help You Get Active in the Dark/Cold

For some, it’s especially hard to get motivated to exercise during winter, but you don’t have to let the cold weather affect your fitness routines. Here are some of our top tips to help keep you moving into spring.

However you choose to stay active this winter make sure you keep your energy levels up by eating lots of healthy snacks. From nuts, pulses, fruit and vegetables to supplements, sports drinks and energy bars.  

Plus, don’t forget to hydrate before, during and after your workout. You can become dehydrated even in the cold weather, but it may be harder to notice. 

Keep warm while running or walking

It’s important if you run or walk to have the right gear. Experiment with layering clothes and protecting your head, hands, feet and ears.  

Exercise generates a considerable amount of heat – enough to make you feel like it’s much warmer than it is. However, the evaporation of sweat pulls heat from your body and you feel chilled, therefore it’s important to dress in layers that you can remove as soon as you start to get warm and sweat, then put back on when needed. We would recommend starting with a thin layer of synthetic material ie. polypropylene, which draws sweat away from your body. Try to avoid cotton, which stays wet, next add a layer of fleece or wool for insulation, then a waterproof outer layer. 

In the early morning or evenings, when it’s still dark, make sure to wear brightly coloured or reflective clothing for safety. If you have the company of your furry friend, then consider investing in a reflective or light up collar or coat to keep them safe too. 

Off road runners will also need a head torch, helpful for keeping your hands free if you stumble or carry a bottle with you. There are reactive torches available to buy which automatically adjust the brightness based on the available light. CSSC have a range of branded Kukri sports wear available now with 20% off. 

It’s also important to make sure you stay steady on your feet by wearing footwear with enough traction to prevent falls, especially on muddy, icy, wet or snowy roads. 

CSSC members can avail of MyActiveDiscounts and also My Savings+ and save on sports clothing.  

Get up earlier & make the most of the day

Choose a feelgood song on your wake up alarm that will help you get out of bed and get your heart beating faster, ready to start your first activity. Be organised and lay your exercise clothes out the night before. Try and warm up inside before you go out in the cold by getting in some active stretches or jumping jacks – this will get the blood flowing to your muscles and joints and reduce your chance of injury. 

Take advantage of what daylight there is by taking a walk/exercising outside during the day. Use your lunch break to get out in the fresh air in your local area. Even if it’s cold, the light will lift your spirits and leave you feeling energised ready for the rest of the day. 

If it’s possible exercise at a similar time every week so it becomes habit rather than relying on willpower. Plus, you may find it helps to track your progress on an app. You can set yourself goals for whatever reason ie. to lose weight, getting fitter or just to feel better, although don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t achieve them, just getting outside and being active helps.

Winter cycling tips

If you cycle as a commuter or for exercise, it’s important to have the right winter gear. If it’s cold and drizzly a pair of rain trousers will keep you warm and dry during the commute. Also, a warm waterproof pair of gloves or handlebar mitts will keep your hands warm, making sure you can still break and shift gears, of course. For especially cold days a handy purchase is a face mask. Not the disposable medical types we see more frequently now, but an exercise specific one, which allows for easier breathing. Some also filter out pollution for city commuting.  

Lights and reflective clothing are even more important during winterYou don’t need to invest in a whole new outfit, instead try using reflective bands on wrists, ankles, knees or elbows or a reflective hat. Whilst cycling on roads between sunset and sunrise you are required to have a working white front light and rear red light and reflectors at the rear of your bike and pedals. 

It’s also important to keep your bike in good condition by regularly cleaning and oiling the chain and checking the brakes and tyres. 

Weather permitting & staying safe

Exercising during the cold winter weather is safe for almost everyone, but if you do have certain health conditions such as asthma, heart problems or Raynaud’s disease, check with your doctor firstly in case you need to take any special precautions based on your condition. 

These tips can help you stay safe and keep active during cold weather. However, do keep monitoring how your body feels during cold weather exercise, to help prevent injuries or frost bite. 

Be sure to let someone know your exercise route and your expected return time, just in case. Or, take someone with you to share the journey.  

Of course, if it’s blowing a gale and pouring down, you could always try a virtual Yoga or Pilates class and stay in the warm – there’s always tomorrow! 

A man jogs through a park on a frosty autumn morning