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How to keep fit during winter

June 2011

Picture the scene...It's winter. The alarm goes. You cautiously place your bare-feet on the cold floorboards. You get back into bed, snuggle down and hit snooze.

Sound familiar?

Winter is enough to drive even the most fanatical morning jogger back under the doona. The days are shorter and the mornings and nights are colder, darker and wetter. The sofa seems more inviting than ever and the idea of having a salad for lunch seems verging on ludicrous. We switch to soup and only indoor and ‘local' outings are considered.

So, how can we avoid the decent into seasonal sloth?

Here are our top tips on keeping fit during winter months.

Have a goal. Whether it's getting bikini ready for a winter beach getaway, an upcoming party, a pair of jeans, a goal date, or a goal weight.

Keep the running shoes and gym kit packed and ready to go. Use quiet minutes to get your gear ready and waiting. It's harder to ignore if your jogging clothes are laid-out and your running shoes waiting by the front door. This ties into our next tip...

Have a plan. It's much harder to cancel a plan than to 'forget' to come up with one in the first place. If you plan your exercise for the week ahead you'll find you are much more likely to stick to it.

Change the routine. If you usually run in the mornings and it's tailed off as the cold has set in, try changing your routine. Switch to Pilates in the evening, yoga at lunch or a cardio gym class. It's good to switch things around and as long as you are getting one hour of moderate or 30 minutes of vigorous activity per day, you are cutting your cancer risk.

Embrace winter sports. Fall back in love with the romantic idea of skating round a rink whilst wearing an ushanka, of skiing down a pine-lined slope, of curling your rock towards the target...too far? Well, winter sports certainly aren't everyday exercise but I guess the idea is to make sure you take advantage of the vast variety of fun ways to keep fit.

DIY. If you don't want to leave the comfort of your own home think about what you can do at home. My enthusiastic friend once weighed bags of flour and sugar and we did a DIY weights training session in the lounge. There are lots of books and videos that are perfect for cold mornings and dark nights.

Socialise the exercise. It's an old trick but it's one that gets results. Find a buddy that has the same or a similar goal to you and arrange to work out together. If the weather is a motivation dampener then having a friend relying on you can help keep you on track and vice versa.

If you don't know anyone that is looking for someone to exercise with why not consider joining something more organised, like training for a fun run with a running club. It's often free and is a great way to meet people to exercise with.

Increase incidental exercise.  Activities like gardening, cleaning the house, and even something as small as walking when you are talking on the phone, are all great exercise. Pick the movement option wherever possible – take the stairs rather then the escalator or lift, change the channel manually rather than with the remote, and so on and so forth.

Get outside. I know, it's cold, and your lounge is warm but winter really is a great time to exercise outside. You can do vigorous aerobic exercise that isn't possible in the summer because of the heat. Meanwhile you'll be getting some winter sun to boost your vitamin D levels. One tip within a tip is to get the right gear. Make sure you've got some proper winter workout gear. Layers are good but you need breathable material.

I guess the main thing to remember is that everyone is different. If you find yourself slipping into hibernation this winter then pull out all the stops. There are so many things, you can try to see what works best for you and what fits with your lifestyle. Whatever you do – fight the couch!

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