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Keep active through the winter

After many years of practising as an Osteopath, I cannot help but notice a pattern of behaviour through the seasons. With the winter now upon us, I expect many of you are not feeling very motivated when it comes to keeping active. Yes, it’s all too easy to snuggle down on that sofa with a hot drink and go into human hibernation! Although this can feel good, it is not necessarily the right thing to do and there is a strong argument for maintaining your fitness all year round.

Avoid injuries

There are a classic couple of scenarios I would like to share with you, both of which are mainly caused by being more sedentary over the winter.

One is the annual skier who decides to try and get fit just before an impending ski trip and overdoes it. I normally get an emergency phone call, a few days before they are due to leave, asking if I can perform miracles!

The second is the gardener who goes mad on the first lovely Spring weekend and I can guarantee my phone will be busy on Monday morning. Maintaining a level of fitness all year round, rather than it going in peaks and troughs, goes a long way in avoiding injuries.

You may well need to alter the way in which you keep fit over the winter and this will take more planning, due to the shortened days. This can easily be a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities but if the weather conditions are dangerous, exercise outside another day rather than risking an injury that could take weeks to heal!

Stay healthy

  • Keep your immune system stronger by boosting your Vitamin D, the easiest source being from sunshine. This is clearly harder in the winter but grab any sunny days there are by being active outside. Consider taking a 10 micrograms daily Vitamin D supplement as advised by Public Health.
  • Avoid being cooped up in an overheated home or workplace. You are more likely to breathe in other people’s bugs in this environment. Try to keep the heating down, move around more to create your own natural heat and keep your fluids up to counteract the dryness of central heating. Take exercise outside to give your lungs a chance to breathe in healthier air.
  • Fight off the winter colds and flus. Research has shown that regular exercise strengthens your immune system. When you exercise and get your blood pumping, immune cells circulate through your body more quickly helping them to seek and destroy infections. However, you need to exercise on a regular basis to maintain the benefit of this.
  • Avoid the winter blues. Feel-good brain chemicals are released when we exercise which help to reduce anxiety and depression so enhancing our mental wellbeing.
  • Keep your weight down, by exercising, as it is far too easy to gain weight from all those winter comfort foods.

So start planning now for a healthier, more active winter and avoid being the one that makes that emergency phone call to me, although I am ALWAYS happy to help!