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How to stay fit and healthy when it's cold outside

Cold weather doesn't mean you need to put your exercise plans into hibernation. Quite the opposite, in fact. Moving more in winter will help keep your body warm and your spirits high. Here's our round-up of how you can adapt your favourite activities to keep you powering through the cold.

Winter is all about cosy comfort – cuddling by a roaring fire, lingering over a hearty stew, snuggling into a bed with a hot water bottle and a good book. In fact, when you think of ‘comfort’ in winter, there’s probably little on your list that ticks the ‘active’ box. Especially if your usual activity of choice involves heading outside… 

People do spend significantly more time indoors during the cold, which is a great shame. All the known benefits of being outdoors are just as important in winter as they are when the weather is warm. In fact, in winter being active outdoors may be even more important.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression associated with the cooler seasons. It’s been linked to changes in the body’s circadian rhythms and is especially prevalent in winter when the body produces less serotonin and melatonin – or ‘happy’ hormones. No surprise that the best known cures for SAD are bright light and exercise. 

Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, chances are your winter lethargy could do with a good shake up. Many people stop doing their regular outdoor sports once the weather cools down. If that’s you, here’s how you can keep up with your favourites, no matter the weather.

1. Walking

If rain and cold have kept you from lacing up your walking shoes, it’s time to put them back on. Walking laps around a large indoor shopping centre is just as beneficial as being out on the roads. Especially if you walk up and down the escalators. Other options that will help you log plenty of walking miles include museums, art galleries or even your local Bunnings. 

2. Tennis

The tennis court rarely looks enticing in the middle of winter. Which is why you might like to try a game of squash or racquetball instead. Aside from squash being played conveniently undercover, the biggest difference between the two games is that in tennis the usual swing-path is low to high, but in squash it is high to low. If that proves too much, try racquetball instead. It’s a similar stroke, the racket and ball size are more familiar and, like squash, it’s just as much of a workout as a regular tennis match. Another alternative here might be table tennis or ping pong.

3. Golf

Unless it’s been bucketing down for days, your best bet with golf is to simply rug up and get out there anyway. That’s because nothing comes close to the combination of a beautiful golf course on a sunny day with a bunch of friends. If you simply can’t face the cold, however, your next best option is to hit your local golf driving range. You’ll get a good workout as you can set your repetitions to 70 shots an hour. Far more than you’d get practising on the course.

4. Soccer

While soccer is traditionally a winter sport, it’s not easy turning up on a freezing weeknight. Which is why indoor soccer is the real beautiful game. Indoor soccer lets you ignore the elements and even the state of the pitch, and play year-round in a temperature-controlled, purpose-built facility.

5. Swimming

Ahem, two words: indoor pool. No excuses.

6. Any sport

When it’s particularly awful outside, it can be hard to leave the comfort of the house at all. Even if that’s to head to the gym or yoga class. Don’t beat yourself up about it… instead punish yourself by doing your class at home via YouTube. There’s not a single exercise class that YouTube hasn’t got covered, so pick your preference, hit play and get stuck in: