We’ve got a dose of winter workout motivation that will ensure the only layers you’ll be adding this chilly season are layers of clothing! Lee-Anne Spurdens gives us the ideas.
While it’s tempting to stay under a blanket all winter long, hibernating isn’t good for your body or mind. Exercise is essential to manage your diabetes well, keep away the winter blues and build a healthy body – which also means you’ll be able to battle the winter germs better. Need some ideas to get you started? Here are seven of our favourites.
- Skipping Mobile, inexpensive and effective, this might be the most winter-friendly workout around. If it’s too cold or wet to skip outdoors, any indoor non-slippery surface will do (even in front of the TV). Skipping ups the heart rate, burns calories and strengthens muscles and bones. Start with five to 10 minutes a day.
- Boot camp If a little authority is what you need to get moving, you could be a winter warrior in the making! Boot Camp Academy SA (bcasa.co.za) offers “military” style boot camp classes across the country for all fitness levels.
- Exercise videos If you prefer to be drilled from the comfort (and warmth) of your living room, an exercise DVD is a good option. And who better to whip you into shape than martial arts guru, Billy Blanks? His legendary Tae Bo workouts are a mix of taekwondo and boxing, and available from takealot.com.
- Fit radio Sometimes all you need to get you moving is the right music. The Fit Radio app delivers a fresh new workout soundtrack whenever you need it and is guaranteed to get you off the couch, even if all you do is dance around your living room. Which brings us to…
- Dancing A tonic for body and soul, the ultimate stress buster and a fun way to warm up a cold body! From ballet and ballroom to hip hop and salsa, there are adult classes available for just about every type of dance. Check out dancedirectory.co.za to find a class in your area – soon you’ll be walking taller, sitting straighter and bending down more easily.
- Walking A brisk, daily 30-minute walk can help maintain a healthy weight, strengthen bones and muscles, manage high blood pressure and heart disease, improve balance and lift your spirits.
- Running If you’re ready (and willing) to take your walking up a notch, why not try a local park run? These free, timed 5km runs take place every week all over the world, are open to all levels and are a great way to get the whole family moving and make new workout buddies. Visit parkrun.com to find a run near you.
Morning movers and shakers
Generate some heat on chilly winter mornings with this 3-minute blood-pumping routine:
- Jumping Jacks: Jump your feet out and sweep your arms up over your head, then jump feet together and bring arms to your side. Repeat for 60 seconds.
- Side squats: Squat as low as you can, stand up and take a step to the side. Squat down again. Repeat on the other side. Keep going for 60 seconds.
- Plank: Get into a push-up position. Bend your arms to the floor, and rest your body weight on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders, your body in a straight line from head to feet. Hold for 60 seconds.
How to motivate yourself to get off the couch
Ask the expert: Ilona Padayachee, Biokineticist
Enjoyment: This is the key to staying motivated, so make sure you enjoy whatever exercise you choose.
Goal setting: This reaffirms a sense of mission, purpose and direction. Set goals during winter to keep you motivated, and reward yourself for sticking to your exercise routine.
Variety: Change up your workout routine to prevent it from becoming boring – try different activities, train outdoors as well as in, and work out with a partner to keep things interesting.
Your toes might be in hiding over winter, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect them. Podiatrist Anette Thompson has this advice for healthy winter feet:
- Treat dry, flaky skin with an exfoliating foot scrub and a good foot and heel balm.
- Warm feet up by soaking them in warm (not hot) water for five to 10 minutes. Follow with foot balm and thick socks for extra snugness.
- Shoes with inflexible soles prevent natural bending at the ball of the foot, which can cause circulation problems. Tight shoes and a toe shape that does not match your foot shape can also limit circulation. Wear low-heeled shoes with flexible soles that don’t squeeze the front of your foot (this can cause inflammation of the big toes or ingrown toenails). Buy a larger size if you wear thick socks, and choose shoes with built-in cushioning – this promotes circulation under the ball of the foot.
Struggling to get started on a fitness routine? Maybe you need to try exercising in a group. It’s far more fun, and just as good for you!
There’s something about pounding the pavement on your own that is just no fun. Swimming lengths can also be lonely, and so can going to the gym. But who said getting fit had to be a solo exercise? Here are some of our favourite ways to get active with your friends and family members.
All you need is a pair of walking shoes and an adventurous spirit and you can start a walking group. Decide on a route that you want to follow, and start slowly – just a kilometre or two will do. It’s a good idea to have a goal in mind so that you can work up to longer distances. How about 10km by the end of the year?
Finding enough people for a full soccer team might be a challenge, but 5-a-side soccer only needs ten people to play the whole game, and ensures that everyone gets a real work-out. You can play on any field or in a garden (because there are fewer players, you need less space) and the game doesn’t last as long – generally an hour in total.
While you can pay a lot to attend official boot camp classes, you can also set up your own boot camp with a few friends. Decide what areas of the body you specifically want to work and set out a four-week exercise programme. You might want to include things like sit-ups, push-ups, jogging around a track or on the spot, doing star jumps, short sprints, skipping and lifting weights. Just make sure everyone is in agreement with what the session looks like – and don’t leave anyone behind!
Ask the expert: Ilona Padayachee, Biokineticist
The FITT principle is very helpful to keep in mind with walking.
F – Frequency
I – Intensity
T – Time
T – Type
Frequency: Aim to exercise for 3 to 5 days a week.
If you are a beginner try not to overdo it, start off slowly and progress to longer and faster walks.
Intensity: This is very important in any exercise programme.
Walking at the correct speed can make a huge difference to how effective the exercise is.
Time: Start slow and build up your time.
A beginner walker should start out at 10 to 12 minutes, including 5 minutes warm-up. Then increase it to 20 minutes by adding 2 minutes to the walk every week.
Type: Choose the type or kind of activity that you enjoy.
It’s always easier to stick to something you like doing!
Diabetic foot care tips:
No matter how much fun you’re having getting fit, don’t forget to look after your feet! As a diabetic, foot care is really important. Bad circulation in the feet and legs, often noticed as leg pain and leg cramps, is one of the problems facing diabetics, and can lead to chronic ulcers, numbness and even gangrene. Daily care for the feet is essential.
Here are some great tips:
- Exercise and regular movement is good for circulation.
- If possible, raise your feet when you’re sitting down.
- Check your feet every day for swelling, marks and red spots.
- Check your feet for ‘cold areas’ (a sign of poor circulation).
- Check your feet for ‘hot areas’ (a sign of infection).
- Dry your feet well after bathing, showering or swimming.
- Apply a good natural cream to the feet every day.
- Wear comfortable shoes that do not pinch the feet or toes.
- Keep toenails trimmed and file sharp edges.