Don’t freeze out exercise over Christmas

When winter starts to draw in and the days get shorter, it’s easy to curl up on the sofa in front of the TV with your favourite comfort food and warming drink. The cold, wet and even snowy weather can make the thought of getting out and exercising pretty unappealing.

But with people often being more susceptible to feeling under the weather in the winter season, particularly when numerous bugs and viruses are doing the rounds, it’s actually more important than ever to keep active and stay on top of your exercise regime.

Whilst there is no definitive proof that exercise and keeping active boosts your immune system, many experts say that your level of physical activity can influence your risk of certain illnesses such as the common cold. So if you exercise regularly, you may be less likely to pick up those germs that are rife in winter.

With the festive season also upon us, it becomes all too easy to swap your visit to the gym or 5km run for a lavish dinner or an extra few drinks with friends or colleagues. Whilst enjoying the celebrations and letting your hair down is important, you need to make sure that your health and fitness don’t fall by the wayside. Before you know it, you could be out of routine and out of habit – making it much harder for you to get back on the fitness wagon once the celebrations die down.

But if you’re still struggling to stay motivated with your regular routine, why not switch up your regime to involve friends and family? Exercise doesn’t have to take place in the gym. Getting out for lots of walks, playing active games and even jumping on your bike if the weather allows it can just take the pressure off slightly and feels less like a regular work out, but with the same benefits.

Stress can also affect many of us in the run up to and during Christmas – with increased pressures from more social comittments, present buying, cooking and hosting Christmas dinners and an increased workload before the festive break making life more hectic.

But keeping active has been proven to reduce stress and depressive symptoms. Exercise reduces the levels of the body’s stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphines – the brains chemicals that lift your mood and act as a natural pain killer. The physical changes exercise brings to the body can also improve your self esteem and confidence, making you feel much more positive about yourself in general.

Although exercise is extremely beneficial, you shouldn’t overdo it, especially not using it solely as a means to improve your mood or immunity. With any type of physical activity, if you do too much it can actually cause more harm than good.

If you do find yourself in the situation where you are suffering from an injury due to exercise, physiotherapy can help get you back on your feet. It can be easy to rest and let an injury or pain heal itself and, whilst this can help, it can be another way to get out of the habit of exericse. If you see a physiotherapist, they will be able to put a programme of treatment together for you based specifically on your problem and even give you exercises that you can still do despite your injury.

So don’t let the cold weather or Christmas set you back with your exercise – keeping on top of it will help you keep on top of your health and well-being, and make sure you stay at your best during all the festivities.

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