Winter Health and Fitness Tips

By Danielle Scott
Australian Winter Olympian

The task of staying fit in winter can easily get pushed aside and soon fall out of your weekly schedule. The shorter days, colder temperatures and temptation of comfort food when motivation gets low are definitely some things that hinder my physical activity. Being in a winter sport and training in places like Finland where there is only three hours of light a day has however, taught me ways to push through and not get bogged down.

Whether you have a specific goal in mind or not, it is important to remember the health benefits of keeping fit and how good it makes you feel once you have accomplished a work out. Search for things that motivate you and have them ready to combat any discouraging thoughts. This may simply be reminding yourself that you are investing in your health, which is important, or perhaps purchasing some new workout clothes that make you feel good when you wear them.

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Winter tips for keeping in shape:

Firstly, getting things done earlier in the day is definitely beneficial. The longer you put an activity off, the less likely you are to get moving. I’ve even found this with finishing one training session and taking too long to start the next one. If you get it done early, you will feel more energized throughout the day, sleep better at night and if you’re super keen, be enlightened by a sunrise.

It’s all about routine. Attending a gym or participating in physical activity on a regular basis might be hard to begin with, but commit to it. Before you know it, you will be in the swing of things and find it easier to go rather than make up for the days you didn’t go.

Don’t forget to recognise what you’re fueling your body with. If you dial in to the nutritional facts of what you’re eating, hopefully you’ll notice the good energy (or bad energy) that results. Eating fresh and unprocessed foods will allow your body to perform better and make you feel less inclined to curling up in a food coma in front of the heater!

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Exercise tips best for winter:

Outside workouts in the summer can sometimes be more appealing and refreshing, but don’t rely on this to get the job done in winter. Commit to purchasing a gym pass and know that you will be more motivated and comfortable not having to face Mother Nature! Find a partner to attend the same gym and push each other to go. Even if you have to, set up a money jar! If you don’t attend your session, fine yourself $5 and know that money doesn’t grow on trees so you better go!

Tailor workouts around areas of your body that you know are problematic. Hiding under winter clothes might be one thing but keep in mind that results won’t happen over night and you’ll only be selling yourself short when summer or an event rolls around. For me, this involves constantly working on my glutes with squat exercises and my core stability with plenty of prone holds. If I slack on these exercises, it takes me a lot longer to get them back.

A typical day for me:

A typical day for me can be pretty extensive. Skiing is my job and as great as that sounds, it unfortunately doesn’t have a clock out time. I am always preparing my body to perform, putting my health first and trying to get an edge on my competitors.

In the winter, I begin with a 45 minute low to moderate intensity warm up. I then head out to prepare the jump site with my teammates, which involves chopping, shovelling and stepping the snow with our skis to make it safe and performance ready. This can take 20 minutes or 2 hours depending on the conditions. Training will go for about 3 hours where we are more often than not, trying to defy gravity whilst battling Mother Nature.

After delayering out of my snow gear, I’ll head to the gym for either an hour and a half of strength and conditioning, a ballet session or a trampoline session. Soon to follow is video review with my coaches, an intense physiotherapy session and finally some visualisation to wrap everything up. Alongside all of this, I am also taking care of my health, nutritional intake and rest and recovery strategies.

How to curb the desire to treat yourself when you’re following a strict exercise and health regime:

As my grandfather used to say, ‘… a moment on your lips, can be a lifetime on your hips!’ This has stuck with me as a bit of a novelty when it comes to curbing desires. If you recognise how quickly that naughty chocolate cake in front of you could disappear, to how long it would take to burn the calories off, you may eat it a little less often. Try sharing the plate with someone or eat slower so your body digests rather than being tricked into still being hungry. Be smart about your intake and create yummy healthy options so you start to crave different things.

 

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