Staying active has important positive benefits for our physical and mental health. But during the short winter days, it can be difficult to keep motivated. Sometimes we all need a little help. So we asked our supporters for their top tips on how they stay active during the colder months.
Supporters share their tips on staying active during the winter
During the Covid-19 pandemic, please remember to stick to local and national government guidelines on exercise.
What are your tips for staying active in winter?
1. Do something every day, however small
I try to have a walk every day before the sun goes down. Even if it's just 15 mins, I find it really makes a difference.
Get out every day, walk either you're local areas or somewhere new, doesn't have to be the coast or countryside, try places on your doorstep, amazing what you might discover!
Set a target of getting out every day despite the weather.
I guess my tip is, don’t put it off. Just do as much as you can, any exercise is better than none!
2. Pick a route and stick to it
A daily circular walk which follows the same route come fair weather or foul, muddy underfoot etc. The decision about the route has already been made... so you just go. You notice the little details and walk faster as the days go on. I intend to use the same idea for cycling.
A local daily walk really focusing on what is around me. You can do the same walk time after time and still notice something different.
In order to switch off, I’ve been walking the same path, a circular bridle path for around 5.5 miles. I'm keeping a photo diary of it in all seasons - as a reminder of the good things which are continuing in nature and creation.
For really bad weather days, I have measured out a walk inside my house. I have calculated that 1 circuit of downstairs and walking upstairs and doing 1 circuit upstairs and then coming down is equal to 250 steps.
3. Explore your local area
I search out new lanes to explore. The quieter, more remote the better.
Explore your town. Look for street art. Or walk or cycle every street in your town.
Buy a large scale map. At least 1:25000. Find the local paths. Aim to spend an hour or two exploring.
4. Set yourself a challenge
Set yourself a challenge. Walking all the local footpaths/cycling all the quiet roads in your area.
Set yourself a goal, I normally enter an event which gives you an incentive to train.
Nothing like pledging to walk 1000 miles a year to get you up and out there!
5. Reward yourself
No-one is too grown-up for a reward chart. I have four different activities (20m run, 30m walk, yoga session or HIIT video workout) and I aim to do one every day and give myself a different coloured tick according to which one I've done. It's nice to see a few empty spaces as possible at the end of the month.
Promise yourself a treat post-exercise. Warm bath, long shower, favourite food.
Where Covid restrictions allow, buddy up when you're on a walk and make it a social event.
6. Wear the right clothes
As long as you are warm and dry the weather doesn't matter because once you are out your mood is lifted. We are finding lots of different walks and routes in our area we never knew existed so it's really enjoyable.
Try to have all your wet weather clothes and layers all ready and in one place so when the forecast permits it doesn't take long to get out and enjoy.
7. Get social
If you can, buddy up!
Agree on an activity with a friend. You’re less likely to cancel or put it off as you’ll feel responsible for them missing out too!
I belong to Christchurch Runners. A friendly, all-ages, running group who have continued to run or jog in small groups throughout the lockdown. Also, we do Joe Wicks PE videos, and regularly walk or cycle locally.
On the 1 Jan 2021 I set up a local WHATSAPP group, so nobody has to exercise on their own. We have 8 in the group already and individuals are posting what they're up to and encouraging others to join them. It’s all really positive.
For walkers: Join one of the online walking groups. They are usually free and provide huge peer support, encouragement and motivation.
8. Just try and get outside every day even for a short walk
In the winter I will use dry days for walking either on my own or socially distanced with a friend. I look for positive things like a beautiful flower, a friendly dog, someone who says hello.
Never underestimate the benefits of just walking. Keeping body and more importantly my mind healthy. Always feel better afterwards no matter how nasty it may have been at the time.
Normally I like walking even if it just around our lovely little estate. I stop and talk to everyone and that helps.
Choose your words carefully. Say "I'd like to go for a run" instead. And if you don't there's always another time. Be kind to yourself.
9. It's not just walking and cycling
Join an online Pilates class or any other exercise class that takes your fancy.
I walk my dog every day for 2 hours.
Bad weather days are kept for swimming and online exercise classes. Good weather days are for cycling and walking.
10. Build activity into your everyday tasks
It's important then to have a reason to head off. If practical, try doing the shopping on foot or by public transport rather than by car.
Buy panniers for your bike and use it for your daily shopping.
11. Plan your week
Plan ahead. And if a wet day keeps you indoors, double the next day's exercise.
Have a look at the weather forecast for the week ahead. And try and plan your activities.
Have planned days each week for activities. Eg we do Tuesday night, Thursday night and Saturday morning.
12. An active commute
I set myself the goal after the first lockdown to use my bike for commuting as much as possible instead of my car.
Started cycling into work since lockdown. Since children are back to school I fit in a 1-mile walk every night. Then cycle a 20 miler on the weekend.
I cycle to work most days which is about 6.5miles. I am using an Ebike now - I'm 65 with two dodgy knees and an Achilles injury.
Make it a habit, something you would normally be doing anyway that just fits in with your current work/home situation. I used to cycle to work in a previous job/previous lockdown. Since end November 2020 I have been working from home, but I still get up at the previous time and go for a 40 minutes bike ride every day - so it feels like I am cycling to work. Determination that I will keep active despite what the world is throwing at us all.
Why not promise yourself a treat post-exercise? Our supporters recommend a nice hot bath, your favourite take-out, or a delicious hot chocolate.
13. Get out early
Mornings are best before life gets in the way.
Exercise first thing in the morning.
14. Use technology
Download a map app (I use OS), exit your back door, pick a destination and find a new way to get there! It's amazing what wonderful new paths and byways you will find so close to home.
I use an apple watch to record all activities. Totally made a difference when I can see my progress.
I found having a fitness watch and app really helped seeing what you have done and the increase you manage the more you do, it is a real motivation.
15. Build your confidence
I took some cycle lessons to gain confidence and have joined an organisation who offer led cycle rides.
16. Help out in your community or on the National Cycle Network
I head out on my bike with my Sustrans gilet, gardening gloves, loppers and pruning saw in the basket. Do a bit of clipping to hold back the tide of bramble, blackthorn, briar, hawthorn and field maple on the local wagonway.
Tidy the garden and/or the gutters, pavements and open areas in the estate. And encourage neighbours to help weed and tidy the local area (whilst still maintaining social distance).
17. And finally, be kind to yourself
Try not to use words like Should, Must Ought and Got - SMOG. Eg I SHOULD go for a run. If then you can't or don't that word can have a negative impact. You may feel you've failed. Try I'd LIKE to go for a run. And if you don't there's always another time. Be kind to yourself.