Fight the urge to tuck yourself away with a bowl of your favourite sweet treats this Hallows Eve and get more active indoors and out..... no excuses .....
The clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in and the weather is due to turn wetter and colder ‒ discouraging many of us from exercising.
But hunkering down on the sofa, munching on comfort carbs and taking no exercise can cause you to gain as much as 6lbs over the winter months, warns fitness expert Lucy Wyndham-Read.
“It’s really important you counter the urge to snuggle down, watch TV and indulge in comfort food – it’s a slippery slope,” says Lucy.
“Obviously you can’t really run outdoors in snow or heavy rain but even with dark evenings you can exercise indoors at home or in a class or the gym and start walking to and from work, or at least part of the way, or get outdoors in your lunch break for a brisk walk or jog.”
Tone up and lose weight
“If you follow our simple exercise plan below for eight weeks, combining it with cutting portion sizes, avoiding processed foods loaded with fat and sugar, and sticking to lean meat and vegetables, you can expect weight loss of around 2lbs a week – a stone in two months.
Plus you’ll feel much better, your breathing will be easier, your core muscles will be more toned and you’ll start to look leaner – particularly around the middle where many of us start to gain weight as we get older,” says Lucy.
“However unfit you are to start with, you can expect to see results quite quickly if you set yourself goals,” she adds.
- Goal: Power walking for 15 to 20 minutes daily three times a week.
- How?: “You need to walk briskly to feel maximum benefits – you shouldn’t be able to talk and be slightly out of breath,” advises Lucy.
“Right from the start, set yourself goals – time yourself and walk as fast as you can for seven minutes, checking the distance on your pedometer. Then turn around and walk back, pushing yourself faster to do it in less time. It doesn’t sound that dramatic but you will quickly improve and get faster and fitter.”
- Health benefits?: Walking briskly helps lower your cholesterol, exercise your heart muscle, engages your core muscles and tones all muscle groups, as well as boosting your mood and helps burn calories. “It’s low impact exercise and puts less pressure on your joints,” says Lucy.
“Exercising outdoors also raises your core body temperature so you stay warmer when you come back indoors – you won’t need your heating turned up so high. You’ll also get exposure to sunlight which helps with vitamin D levels,” she adds.
- Can’t fit it in?: “Use a pedometer to track your activity – it’s surprising how lots of small lifestyle tweaks such as using stairs instead of the lift, walking up stairs, walking up the station platform, walking to the shops or parking further away can all tot up,” says Lucy.
- Don’t like the weather?: “Try layering up for winter activities – warm your exercise gear on a radiator before going out so they are nice and toasty,” says Lucy. “You can take off layers and tie them round your waist when you warm up.”
“Generally though, try and embrace the seasons and enjoy the elements – kick up autumn leaves – drag the kids or grandchildren out for country walks or to the park so it’s a social occasion too.”
Four minute indoor workout
- Goal: A four minute workout once a day ‒ aim for five times a week. “If you can’t face exercising outside – say you’ve got home and it’s already dark ‒ try a four minute indoor workout,” suggests Lucy.
“People think they have to go to a gym and slog on an exercise bike for 30 minutes but it’s the intensity of exercises that’s important, not the duration, and you can do it anywhere.”
- How?: ”Warm up gently then jog for 20 seconds on the spot as fast as you can, getting your knees up as high as you can and using your arms,” says Lucy. “Then march it out for 10 seconds breathing deeply and repeat the 20 second jog/10 second recovery cycle for four minutes.
Another variation, which is great for toning arms and abs, is standing in a Y shape, feet apart, keeping your abdominal muscles pulled in and punch out for 20 seconds, allowing a 10 second recovery – repeat for four minutes. You could try jumping up from a squatting position and repeating – again in 20 second bursts – this is great preparation for skiing.”
- Health benefits?: “The four minute workouts are good for middle-age spread, even for a complete beginner – it is important you do it intensely though. The work out can raise your metabolism so you burn an extra 35 calories an hour for 10 hours afterwards an extra 350 calories in all.”
- Can’t fit it in?: Come on – four minutes?
- Don’t like... exercising alone?: Ask a friend round or do the routine with your partner – it’s cheaper than a personal trainer. Even better download Lucy’s training audio for motivation.
For more information on getting fit read our feature on ‘winter warm ups for safer exercising’ and ‘have fun keeping active this winter’.