Is the cold weather slowing you down?
Liana Vlajankov is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist, who believes that exercise is medicine and that the stronger you become physically, the stronger you become mentally. She also believes that this strength, along with the habits and perseverance that regular exercise helps to create, allows us to be better equipped to deal with the stressors of daily life.
Liana understands that keeping active during the cooler months can be quite challenging and says that we’re definitely not alone if we feel like we’d much rather stay in bed than head to an early morning gym session or stay at home after work rather than brave the cold, dark nights. If you find you struggle to get motivated when the temperature drops (or perhaps all the time!) Liana suggests having a few helpful strategies up your sleeve to overcome your barriers and common thought process.
Liana, why is it important to keep moving during the cooler months?
It’s importance because when it’s colder we tend to overindulge and eat heartier meals. We also drink less water which can lead to overeating because we mistake dehydration for hunger. As we’re inside a lot more we may be more sedentary, therefore our muscles and joints become tight and stiff. Exercise, at any time, also plays an important role in the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels. This happens because our muscles utilise the readily available glucose in our blood stream as energy to allow our muscles to contract and move.
What’s the best thing to do when we notice our body tight and stiff?
Move your body in different ways and stretch often. Exercise lubricates our joints which helps to reduce joint stiffness and pain. It also reduces muscle tension that may have accumulated due to our muscles working harder to keep us warm.
Should we continue to exercise if we have the cold or flu?
Usually, the rule of thumb is that when you have a head cold it’s fine to exercise. However, if you’re experiencing body aches and pains and a temperature associated with flu-like symptoms, it’s best to rest.
Why not sweat it out like we’re often told to do?
Exercise is stress on the body which acts as a great stimulus for our body to be challenged to become stronger, fitter and more efficient. Yet, too much stress on the body or over-exercising can be detrimental. Over-exercising or over-training can lead to an elevated resting heart rate, prolonged muscle soreness and feeling tired rather than energetic after exercise. My advice would be to listen to your body and tune into what it really needs. I find it helpful to reflect on everything from my sleeping patterns, diet and exercise regime to my work and social schedules to gain clues as to where I may have thrown myself out of balance and what I need to do to recover. I often choose to eat lots of fresh dark leafy green vegetables, drink plenty of water and get enough sleep to get me back on track.
What if we aren’t a member of a gym, are time poor, can’t afford to attend class or can’t be bothered leaving the house?
Online fitness programs can be really helpful because they educate you while also keeping you accountable to your weekly exercise routine. Some programs provide workout routines and meal plan ideas to ensure that you’re fueling your body with healthy food that can be prepared easily. It’s important that you listen to your body and alter things where needed as these are not tailored specifically to your body’s abilities and your own nutritional requirements.
I also like to use some exercise apps such as, Down Dog and TABATA Timer.
Down Dog is an easy to use yoga app that guides you through a yoga practice of your choice. You can do an introduction to yoga, a full practice, a quick flow or a restorative yoga session. The bonus of this is that you can do it from the comfort of your own home and even maintain your routine if you go away.
TABATA Timer is a form of high intensity interval training that is made up of 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work, with 10 seconds of recovery. If you’re really keen, you can use these 10 second bouts for an active rest (i.e. squat hold or pulses). I find this app fantastic if you want to get your heart rate up when you’re short of time and lacking space or equipment. I often complete 3-4 of the 4 minute TABATA rounds by super setting exercises for a full body work out (i.e. squats for 20 seconds, 10 second hold then down to the ground for 20 seconds of push-ups followed by a 10 second high plank hold). You can choose any body weight exercise and make it more challenging if you feel like it. I recommend choosing two different muscle groups when completing your TABATA circuits to make sure that your workout is balanced.
What are the key things to remember when starting an exercise routine?
It’s important to create and set an exercise routine that you can stick to. To do this you can let your friends and family know your health and fitness goals, meet up with friends to exercise together and have variety in what you do. I believe the most important things is to make your routine a fun and social experience. You can do this by participating in small group training or group fitness classes, attending yoga classes or walking with friends when you catch-up with them.
A very big thanks to Liana for her tips and expert yet, realistic advice.
If you’d like to learn more about Liana including, her top three tips for staying healthy, her go-to meal, how she prioritises herself daily and when she feels like her truest self, you can read more here.