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Keeping fit in bad weather

October 2017

road cycling

We all know we need to do some exercise and try and keep fit.  It is important for so many aspects of our health and also our mental wellbeing.

But as the temperature drops and the nights draw in, it can be harder and harder to work up any enthusiasm for that lovely walk along the country lanes, or that jog in the local park.

The darker days can affect our mood and curb our energy to do anything too active; yet in fact autumn is probably one of the most important times when we should be ensuring we get enough exercise.

For a start, our natural defences benefit from exercise; and autumn is the time when colds, flu and other illness can start to really spread and develop. Moderate exercise may strengthen our immune system, reducing the risk of us being sick.

Exercise can also help to improve our mood and overall sense of wellbeing, helping to prevent that more passive attitude and SAD that can come in colder darker weather.

So the recommendations are to definitely keep on with all your activities even as the weather turns bad. There are a few aspects that are worth considering though.

First is warming up. This is important when we exercise and can become more important still if our bodies and muscles are cold when we start. 

Footwear of course is crucial. It is all too easy to just pop on your favourite outdoor shoes or trainers. But for winter weather, look at them carefully. If the tread is smooth, or indeed the design is really geared to dry conditions, invest in a new pair of shoes. These can make all the difference to your enjoyment and safety during winter weather.

Clothing of course is key, but also lighting. High visibility jackets really don’t cost much and make you really visible on gloomy days. There is a whole range of visibility jackets and bands for all ages readily available these days.

Reflective bands that you just pop onto your arms can also be useful and today you can even find wearable electronics including led lights that you can sew onto your clothing for great visibility.

A new hazard not necessarily weather connected is electric cars as with their quieter engines you may not hear them so easily.

If you become very focussed on ensuring exercise during winter, just bear in mind exercising with a fever is not a good idea and it can make you feel worse and in rare cases it can even lead to the virus affecting your heart which can be dangerous.

But if the grey dismal weather is just too off putting for your regular outdoor exercise, then autumn is a great time to think about starting something new. This is the time new indoor classes are starting and the range of activities today, from tai chi to gentle rock climbing for older people, is astonishing.

The NHS have a listing of various centres to contact in your specific region.

If you are still stuck about what to do during the winter months, one of the fastest growing trends for our age group is dancing.  Dance can be an excellent form of exercise. The NHS has put together a useful information page.

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