Top tips to stay healthy as winter is upon us

Staying healthy during winter- your top tips from Photo courtesy of iStock

By Johnathon Pearl

Winter is here and exercise is more important than ever, not only for the body but also for the mind.

With temperatures plummeting and evenings getting darker by the day, many people find motivation to exercise extremely difficult and as a result it simply gets lost in routine.

Summer months provide people with a lot more freedom to exercise. A December night in Ireland lasts almost 17 hours and the days start about 4 hours earlier compared to the summer months.

In Winter, particularly on weekdays it can be extremely difficult to get out for a run, go for a cycle and virtually impossible to go for a swim, unless you wanted hypothermia.

So how do people go about exercising in the Winter?

Strength and fitness coach Suzanne Flannagan explained just how important it is to keep up a level of exercise during the winter months and how to train efficiently.

‘’It is very important for young people to do some sort of exercise at all times but especially in the world we live in right now. 

‘’With technology so advanced it is so easy for young people to just sit inside with play stations, which keep them entertained until they go to sleep and not exercise at all.’’

‘’We all know it is very difficult in the winter months, (gets dark early) so planning is vitally important. Designate an hour when it is bright to exercise 4 or 5 times a day and it will make you feel so much better about yourself.”

Suzanne Flannagan

‘’Any sort of exercise young people can benefit from, a simple jog out the back of the house, a workout with another family member, whatever people feel comfortable with.”

Flannagan emphasized the need to plan before exercising.

‘’We all know it is very difficult in the winter months, (gets dark early) so planning is vitally important. Designate an hour when it is bright to exercise 4 or 5 times a day and it will make you feel so much better about yourself,” she explained.

‘’Plan a time to exercise at the start of the week or even the night before, so that you know its going to be bright while exercising.

‘You don’t’ have to go outside to exercise’ remarked Flannagan when asked about the shortened days.

‘’Equipment like an exercise bike, a treadmill or even a rowing machine can be used but even getting a matt out in a corner by yourself and doing body weight exercises is perfect. It will give a great boost to your day.

It is well known that exercise releases happy thoughts in people’s brains. Several studies have been done showing exercising releases happy endorphins which in turn puts people into a much happier place mentally.

Personal Trainer Gavin McCoy recently moved to Australia to study health and conditioning.

Speaking to he gave tips for exercising in Winter but also commented on studying the benefits exercise can have on the mind.

‘’Exercise is so important, so many studies are done on it, but I still think the majority of people don’t actually realize how valuable it is.’

‘’Learning more about mental health over here, (Australia) makes you become such a big advocate to encourage people to have at least one piece of exercise in their daily lives.’

‘’A lot of fitness advocates that are big on Tik Tok and Instagram constantly talk about taking rest days, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do yoga or stretching. I would be really big on doing a piece of exercise a day.

‘’Some people might not think it but for an exercise Yoga is probably one of the best things you can do. Especially with the early nights, find a peaceful place in your house bring your mat and do some Yoga, it is brilliant for the mind.’’

‘’Of course, running, swimming, cycling help but not everyone likes or can do them, an hour of meditating or stretching are also great ways of feeling better particularly as the days in Ireland are quite short.’’

Talking about his studies he enlightens us on different ways to feel better about yourself and how different ways of exercising appeals to different personalities.

‘’Obviously, exercise is key but some of the ways I have learned that improves your mental health and day to day living are crazy.

‘’One of the probably eye-opening things we were told was having a cold shower at the start of every day. It is crazy because it puts you in such a good place mentally. 

‘’I know everyone loves a warm shower and they are nice but, the idea of having a cold shower in the morning is that it’s your first challenge of the day, the idea of a shower like that is that it isn’t supposed to be nice and relaxing it’s all about passing the first challenge of the day, it is brilliant.’’

Gavin also stressed that ‘people should only focus on themselves and not other people.’

‘’I get asked about gym membership all the time, and whether or not people have to get gym membership to exercise, which just entirely isn’t the case. A lot of people focus on other people and what they are doing when all that people should be caring about is themselves.

‘’Going to the gym and working out with other people can be beneficial to some but it can be also quite daunting. It’s all about yourself and what you prefer, constantly thinking about what others are doing can be really difficult on people’ minds and it won’t allow you to get the best out of yourself.’’

Exercising is one of the most important things to do in Winter. Whether it is a run, a cycle, yoga or even swimming, every little helps.

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