Adapting physical activity to beat the seasonal weather

Published 18 April, 2024

As we approach the end of the year and the beginning of the winter season, the temperature drops and the hours of daylight reduce. This might make it challenging to maintain your usual physical activity routine. Perhaps It’s no longer possible to take a walk after work, as it’s dark by the time you finish? Or is it too cold to complete your routine first thing in the morning? When the seasons and the weather changes, its important to make adaptations to our activity schedule to face the challenges the colder seasons face. Here are some suggestions as to how you might change your routine to overcome the inclement weather.

Try a home workout

If your usual activity isn’t possible due to the weather or lack of daylight, a great option is to try the activity from the comfort of your own home!

For an aerobic-based exercise, consider climbing up and down your staircase to simulate the incline and decline of a hilly walk. If you are looking to continue a resistance-based workout and don’t have a weight set at home, try other weighted objects that you can hold, such as food cans or bottles of water! If you are unsure of what routine to follow at home, there are many great options available online that often require no equipment to try! We also have a chair-based exercise routine, that you can find here.

Take the walking route under a roof

If you have a favoured walking route, perhaps through your local park, it might be disheartening to not be able to continue the routine during the winter months. However, a great option to keep the movement going with a change of scenery is to plan out a route that is mostly covered or indoors.

A great example would be to travel to your nearest shopping centre and make a route throughout the building, including climbing up and down the stairs (if available). Although the scenery might not be quite as natural, this is a great way to maintain a regular walking routine without having to face the elements during the winter.

Make the most of the daylight hours

If you’ve found the main challenge to keeping up your routine to be the shorter daylight hours, consider how you could adjust your activity timings to make the most of the daylight we do still have at this time of year. For those who work, this might mean taking a walk during your lunch break while the light is still out or fitting your exercise in first thing after finishing work rather than later in the evening. Even if you make simple changes like taking the stairs rather than the lift or trips to the next floor to speak to a colleague rather than sending an email, every step matters, especially over the winter where we typically move less.

Find a new activity or group

For some activities, such as outdoor sports, it might not be possible to continue them during the colder part of the year. Rather than seeing this as a setback or barrier, see it as an opportunity to try out a new alternative activity that you can enjoy during the winter. Consider trying out an indoor sport, such as badminton or taking a swim in the local indoor pool (many venues offer pay-as-you-swim option). It’s also worth looking into local indoor classes that might interest you, such as yoga or spin cycling. Having both warm weather and cold weather options can help you maintain a regular activity routine throughout the year.

Ensure you are prepared before braving the elements

Many activities, such as walking in nature, can still be enjoyed and be a part of your regular routine in the winter months, there is just an additional level of preparation that is needed to ensure comfort and safety.

For days where the rain doesn’t seem to stop, make sure you have a set of waterproofs (coats and trousers) and footwear that can withstand the rain and provide grip in the more slippery conditions. If you are venturing out when the temperature is low, wrap up with multiple layers and make sure to wear gloves and a hat as it will feel a lot colder without them! Don’t be afraid to bring lots of layers with you, it’s better to have too many and take some off when needed rather than not having enough and struggling with the cold.

If you choose to exercise out in the dark, make sure to carry or wear a light at all times, such as a head-strapped torch to keep an eye ahead. Similarly, make sure you are wearing reflective clothing so that other people, especially drivers and cyclists can see you clearly.

And remember, the warmer months are coming!

Although the activity routine that you enjoy during the warmer months might be disrupted, rather than seeing the weather as an impossible obstacle, try to view this as an opportunity to try something new or different! If you can create both a warm weather and cold weather routine that you enjoy, it can really help to maintain regular activity whatever the weather!

We only have a few months of colder and darker days, and if you find new activities to engage in during this time the months will pass by seemingly quicker, the fairer weather (and your favourite activities) will return soon!

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