For many of us, the cooler winter months bring many barriers to exercising success. Alarm clock vs. warm snuggly bed is one that pops up before we even get out the door, and if we do manage to get up it's often a battle to train around shorter daylight hours. But don't panic! All you need is a little enthusiasm and these handy pointers to be on your way to a winter wonderland of fitness.
- Plan ahead. As the saying goes "failing to plan is planning to fail" so prepare you week ahead. Sit down at the end of every weekend and literally diarise in your exercise for the week ahead. This pre-planning will help to ensure you have everything in order to make it happen. This includes: setting out your clothes, planning your food around sessions and arranging the family so training can be locked in. If you're still needing the extra push then plan to meet a friend or book into a group training session.
- Rug up and warm up. Winter is generally unpredictably cold and changeable so always have 1-2 extra layers to warm up/down in. Ensure you are warmly dressed and then take the time (minimum of 10-15 mins) to slowly ease into your workout and also warm down at the finish. This will help avoid injury and limit unneeded stress on the body. Alternatively, head indoors, these days there is an indoor fitness solution to suit everyone!
- Sleep. It's not new advice but it's actually important. Aim for a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep per night. This will provide extra support to your immune system and aid muscle repair and recovery. Bonus points for going to bed and waking up at the same time each day! Your body likes to have a rhythm. Having trouble getting out of bed? Open the curtains and let the sun stream in on mornings its around.
Increase your fruit and vegetables. Sorry folks but 5+ a day isn't going to cut it if you're planning to train regularly through the cooler months. Our bodies need all the vitamins and minerals they can get, so aim to include vegetables and fruits into every meal. Yes, vegetables at breakfast is actually not a silly idea (think, savoury omellete). Eating a wide variety of colourful produce is essential for immune support.
For those needing a helping hand, PURE Beet Endurance and PURE Blackcurrant Recovery are convenient options to pack a serious nutrient punch into your diet. Both products are produced by freeze-drying, a process that concentrates nutrients down without compromising the naturally quality or loss of nutrients. And since they're a powder, they're great to add to drinks, baking or sprinkled over your favourite breakfast foods.
- Vitamin D. While this gem is known for its role in bone health it is also thought to help support your immune system and muscle strength. Small amounts can be found in oily fish, liver, eggs and fortified (added into) food products, however, we need sun contact with skin to meet our daily requirements. Winter tends to be a safer time to achieve this so take time out each sunny day to expose your skin to some rays. If sunshine is limited in your part of the world over winter get your bloods checked with your GP and they can supplement levels if required.
- Don't forget hydration. Fluid replacement is just as important in winter so keep on top of it to get the most out of your training. Don't be fooled by thinking that hydration is only applicable in hotter temperatures. Know your daily fluid requirements so you start your training session on the front foot and for sessions over the 1-hour mark incorporate hydration into your session. PURE Electrolyte Hydration is ideal to provide replacement of carbohydrates, electrolytes lost in sweat and prevent dehydration during sustained exercise.
- Rest and Recover. Winter training adds additional stress to the body and specifically our immune system, so recovery should be a top priority over the cooler months. Maximise the 30-minute window at the completion of your workout to get carbohydrates and protein on board to support the recovery phase. PURE Exercise Recovery has been designed specifically for this purpose. It is a delicious raw cacao and New Zealand honey powder blend which is designed to be quickly and conveniently mixed with water for a creamy, low-fat recovery shake.
Marewa Sutherland is a qualified Sports & Exercise Nutritionist (BAppSc, University of Otago) and co-founder of PURE Sports Nutrition. Marewa is available for personalised Nutrition consultations in person or via Skype.