Many people find it difficult to motivate themselves for a workout after work. Especially in winter, when it's uncomfortably cold and dark outside, the motivation reaches a low. In this article, we'll explain why it's important to keep exercising during the cold months. We will introduce five sports that can be perfectly integrated into your winter evening routine.
After a hard day at work, it is the easiest choice to spend the rest of the day with an exciting movie (or a TV-series) on your cozy couch. Especially in the winter months, sports won’t probably come into your mind. However, being active has many advantages at this time of year.
In the winter, our health is exposed to many attackers. Anyone who can get up to exercise strengthens their immune system. Viruses and bacteria no longer stand a chance. And exercise also has a positive effect on your mood. Particularly during endurance training in the cold, fresh breeze stimulates the production of the happiness hormone serotonin and thus counteracts the winter blues. However, you don't have to force yourself out into the cold to feel the positive effects of exercise. There are also practices that you can do in the comfort of your own home.
Exercise generally helps you relieve stress and clear your mind. In addition, researchers at Curtin University in Australia found that people who were active after work slept better, were more productive and more engaged in their jobs. So what you (don't) do after work has a direct impact on your performance the next workday. Especially for people who sit a lot throughout the day, sports are an ideal compensation.
These five sports will keep you fit throughout winter
The following five sports can be easily integrated into your after-work routine. You can choose whether you prefer to stay at home or venture out into the cold. And if you are currently working in your home office, these exercises will help you create a good balance to your digital workday.
1. Home workouts:
As many gyms are currently closed due to lockdown measures, home workouts have proven to be a good alternative. Also, the Internet is filled with different exercise offers and programs. There are training plans that are individually put together for you, but you can also find many influencers who offer free videos on YouTube to follow along. These range from slow beginner workouts to fast HIIT workouts, from full-body workouts to training individual muscle groups. So you can find the perfect workout for every fitness level. And for most of them, you don't even need any equipment. With small equipment like dumbbells or elastic exercise bands, you can take your training to a new level, but these are not essential for an effective workout.
Especially in times like these, it's important to be able to switch off from everyday life and relax. This winter, many things probably don't go as planned and the days on which you come home irritated and stressed out are piling up. With yoga, you can slow down your racing thoughts as it helps you to calm down, regardless of your age and fitness level. Apart from a yoga mat, or a comfortable rug, you don't need any equipment for a yoga session. If you've never done yoga before, try a beginner's lesson. Here, too, you will find a huge selection of different offers on the Internet.
3. Table tennis:
Tennis, badminton, and squash are particularly popular in winter because they challenge the body and can also be played indoors in a hall. Since most sports halls are also currently closed, table tennis is an inexpensive alternative for your own home. With a roll-out net, you can turn any table at home into a table tennis table. Apart from that, all you need is a ball and some bats. You'll have the most fun with a partner, but you can also play alone against a wall.
4. Stair Climbing:
Do you like training with the Stairmaster at the gym? If so, running up and down a flight of stairs is an ideal alternative for you. You probably have a staircase at home that you can run up and down. This is especially useful if you live in a building with many floors. Otherwise, you will certainly find a well-lit staircase outside and do a little outdoor workout. If you need something more challenging, you can climb the stairs twice as fast, or take two steps at a time. This is harder than you might expect! But always be concentrated to not hurt yourself!
Jogging is possible at any time of the day and the year because you are not bound to a fixed place. You can run in the park, in the forest, in your neighborhood, basically everywhere. Since there are fewer runners outside in the winter months, you can have a peaceful and quiet run on your own. This is perfect for taking your mind off of stressful, work-related thoughts. But especially in winter, you should make sure that you are easily recognized in traffic. In the next section, you'll find out what else you should consider when you decide to go for an outdoor run after work.
Here's what you need to keep in mind if you want to exercise outdoors in winter
As you can see, you don't have to leave the house at all if you want to exercise after work, which is especially beneficial during times of lockdown. Nevertheless, outdoor-exercise in the cold has many health benefits. However, cold winter weather comes with an increased risk of injury accompanied by wet, icy, and thus slippery grounds. But if you follow these tips, you will get the most out of your training sessions in the safest way.
Warm-up properly: If you start your workout session outside right away as you leave your warm space, you are risking injuries. When it's cold, your muscles cramp up more quickly and can become stiff, which can lead to strains, for example. Therefore, you should warm up thoroughly before training. For example, you can do 5-10 minutes of light stretching exercises.
Proper clothing: It is best to dress for your sports session so that you are still a little cold at the beginning. Through the exercise, you heat up quickly and with thick clothing, it quickly becomes too warm and you overheat. Functional clothing is best suited here because it dries quickly and doesn‘t cool you down. Also important are hats and gloves to keep your head and fingers warm. Finally, your shoes should be as waterproof as possible and have a good profile to reduce the risk of slipping.
Correct breathing: Try to breathe through your nose while you’re outside. While the nose warms the air first, breathing through the mouth makes the cold air going straight into the lungs. This can irritate bronchial tubes and mucous membranes and thus oxygen is absorbed less easily.
Drink plenty of fluids: The cold dulls your natural thirst, so make sure you drink enough fluids. Water and warm teas are good choices. Do not wait for thirst to set in, this would already indicate a severe lack of fluids.
Visibility in the dark: Reflective stripes on your clothing make you visible to other road users, especially car-drivers. For adventurous runners who also like to explore poorly lit routes, a headlamp that illuminates the field of vision is a good idea.
And the most important tip: you should better start today than tomorrow!
Written by: Tina Zagacka