During winter, it’s often easy to slip into bad habits or hit a lazy slump, fantasising about snuggling up in bed with a cuppa hot chocolate all day, every day. The thought of exercising in the chill can be so overwhelming that even putting on your active gear becomes a dreaded task.
But why does winter have to be a time of lethargy and regression? To transform your mindset about staying active this season, try these top 5 fitness hacks.
Never dive right into hectic training. This will shock your system and leave you feeling like you never want to put on your training shoes again. Kick off slow … baby steps. Want to run 5km? Start by walking. Each day, pick up the pace and increase your speed, until your walk becomes a jog that ends in a run … several kilometres later. Small, manageable steps can steer your mind into a productive routine, paving a better roadmap to your ultimate goal.
Smartphone tech is one of the best ways of kicking your mindset into gear. Thanks to the myriad options offered by real-time AI, apps make it easier to stay mindful about tracking your fitness goals. Men’s Health recently shared its top apps for 2018. With the likes of Strava on the list, you’ll achieve that fabled five-kay target in no time. When keeping track of your fitness targets, you take control of your schedule, and stay motivated to keep pushing towards the finish line.
Get food fabulous
Did you know that most phones now offer a universal health app? Both Android and iOS systems feature functionality that help you diarise and analyze your eating habits. You can also maintain optimal health by eating smaller, more regular portions. According to The Fit Day, this can help you with several wellness goals, such as decreased calories, boosting your metabolism and sustaining optimal blood-sugar levels (for most healthy folks, normal levels range up to 7.8 millimoles about two hours after eating – a registered health practitioner can advise you here).
This winter, opt for seasonal fruit and veg – which ‘boost immunity and ensure we get the right vitamins and minerals’, notes Niki Bezzant from Sun Live. Your seasonal fix is available from eco-friendly online retailers like The Earth Fair Market and Faithful to Nature.
Join a sports club. Get a gym buddy
Positive peer pressure is the best energy booster and confidence builder you can get. Sports clubs and online running communities are a huge trend in South Africa, connecting groups of people who share a training approach. Heard about Parkrun or the Nike Running App? Both are free and designed to turbocharge your routine.
The Nike Running App features ‘audio-guided runs that give you a voice inside your head that believes you can do it’, a progress tracker and a personalised coach, among others.
Think outdoor gyms around South Africa, incorporating facilities such as air skiers, cross-trainers, gymnastics rings, horizontal ladders, leg presses and more. Cape Town is blessed with a scenic outdoor gym on Beach Road, Sea Point. Johannesburg City Parks hosts several, from Metro Park in Newtown to Mushroom Farm in Sandown.
Super-sweat songs are your best friends
Has your gym buddy bailed? Ensure you have a backup playlist handy. Unlike your gym buddy, music won’t let you down. Melodic motivation gets your neurons firing harder, making you push further for extra-impressive cardiovascular results.
According to HuffPost, a scientific study found that ‘patients who used music playlists … showed the greatest increase in their physical activity – pushing themselves to work out 261.1 more minutes than the other patients’.
Want to be 261.1 tougher than your most nefarious rival? Our Top 3 Champ Tunes, in no particular order, are:
• Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
• U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer
• One More Time – Daft Punk
Arm yourself with positive life hacks
The Mayo Clinic offers a scientific perspective on nuking negatives. ‘Positive thinking helps with stress management,’ it contends, ‘and can even improve your health.’ We say this is a no-brainer, so get playful with these positivity proposals from empowerment blog Life Hack and well-being facilitator Drew H Lesser.
Make a conscious effort to smile at everyone you meet. ‘Studies indicate that, when we smile at people and they smile back, we increase our oxytocin,’ says Lesser. By smiling more, you’re telling your neural network to amplify your happiness quotient. By being more positive, you’re training your mind to crave healthy kicks: including exercise.
A one-month plan based on something seemingly trivial can transform your fitness thinking. For the next 30 days, try gentle daily exercise. Yoga is a good start, because you can go at your own pace. Or, commit going to the gym for the next 30 days, every day. Your deal with yourself? If you don’t feel like exercising, go home: but chances are you’ll be ready for sweat once you’re there.
MediFin believes in living your best life and your grey matter is your most powerful fitness ally – all while building lasting wellness habits, one day at a time. It’s not always easy – but you simply need to believe that athletic greatness is your birthright (because it is).
How are you recharging your winter wellness? Will you be using our top tips to help you? We’d love to hear how they work for you.
*Disclaimer: Always consult your registered local medical/healthcare practitioner for advice on medical issues.