29 Jun Couch Potato or Get Fit This Winter?
Ah Winter…nice crisp evenings rugged up in your pj’s watching endless reality television shows OR maybe not?
Couch Potato “noun” A person who takes little or no exercise and watches a lot of television.
With dark cold days during winter it’s so easy to opt out of exercise and lounge around on the couch. Why not use this time to get your body and fitness back into shape just moving and improving your fitness level along the way?
You see for some folks the word “fitness” can be seen as a scary word all on its own. I personally like to think of fitness as quality me time, allowing me that hour or so in the day to feel free from any day to day worries we all seem to have these days.
At some point we all talk about taking time out for ourselves but actioning this is a whole different ball game. Winter makes it just that little bit harder. So what do you consider to be Fitness?
Fitness is seen and expressed in many ways. I recently conducted a very casual survey over dinner with a group of 8 friends both male & female (non runners of course) asking what they considered to be fit.
Here are some of the responses I received:
Fitness/Being Fit Equals
(1.) Turning Vegan (2.) Dieting (3.) Going without cake (4.) Giving up alcohol (5.) Be Skinny
I was kind of taken back to hear people’s general definition and perception of the word Fitness.
In my opinion, to be Fit or have good Fitness you do not need be skinny or run marathons, smash your body up at the gym 7 days a week or go without food that you love. You simply need to move!
This could mean walking, running, boxing, yoga, cycling, eating smaller portions of the good food you already eat and so on. Eating a little cake here and there or a glass of wine does not make your fitness bad. Sure if you are in hard training for a half or full marathon it can affect your training or overall result but generally I find it’s when you choose to take it to the next level e.g sitting on the lounge eating tim tams while watching reality tv “The Biggest Loser” that it’s a worry (true story that).
So here are some benefits of exercise that can also help fight the Couch Potato Winter Blues:
Lets start with walking, you would be amazed what 15-30 minutes a day can do to improve and maintain your overall fitness and wellbeing, while reducing body fat and boosting your immune. Why do I love walking?
Walking is accessible to all ages and can be done anywhere you like. Walking can be a great way to start or end your day. It’s a fab way to destress, explore new areas, catch up with friends and best of all it’s totally free! My furry son aka Apollo The Airedale and I, schedule at least 45 minutes of walking six days a week.
Apollo loves the outdoors but sadly hates selfies (need to work on that one) ha ha ha!
The warm couch still calling you? Have a think of these health benefits walking assists in:
- reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 Diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers
- increased cardiovascular and pulmonary heart and lung) fitness
- stronger bones and improved balance for all ages
- reduced body fat
- overall increased muscle strength
Don’t have time? Need to work early-finish late? Easily solved, here’s how to build walking into your daily routine:
- Get off the bus one stop earlier and walk to work or home
- Take the stairs instead of the lift (great way to work strengthening the leg muscles too)
- Always choose to walk and opt out of driving to the local shops
By making walking a part of your daily routine, you will increase your fitness, strengthen the muscles, release happy endorphins and maybe even say goodbye to a couple extra winter kilos!
Need more motivation?
Here are 5 short reasons to exercise regularly this winter that won’t eat into your Game of Thrones marathon:
1. Weight Loss
Whilst many will turn to comfort food during winter, be strong and focus on a set goal. Take advantage of the cooler days, eating health and adding exercise into your daily routine, will mean weight loss, body toning and good fitness come sporing. Continuing to exercise through winter will make the warmer days effort seem easy. You will not feel the pressure of having to get your body ready for summer as you will already be half way there!
Examples of exercise that will help you to reduce your body fat percentage are walking, running, boxing and cycling.
2. Look Good – Feel Good
It’s really as simple as it sounds. When you look good, the feel good seems to follow. Its hard to enjoy social gatherings or parties when you don’t fit into any of your much loved clothes. Eating sensibly and not increasing the portions of food during winter, helps maintain a well balanced lifestyle and overall health. Not to mention that good food along with a little bit of exercise, helps us feel better about ourselves by optimising our physical condition. Win win situation really!
Combining cardiovascular exercise with a little resistance will tone the muscles and reduce body fat
3. Energy Boost
If you are like I was once upon a time, feeling slow and sluggish even fatigued first thing in the morning, you can give yourself a serious energy boost and improve your mood instantly with a Reformer Pilates class, Yoga or even a 30 minute home stretch session (so many available on YouTube for free)Gong session. Each of these emphasises the coordination of breathing patterns and movement, resulting with increased energy levels.
4. Improved Immunity
With Winter comes germs that circulate around the office or home brought in from school by our children. Regular exercise helps boost immunity by improving lymphatic and cardiovascular circulation. It is important to optimize the full effects of exercise by doing so regularly. A daily walk for 20 minutes can fit nicely into one’s lunch hour or after work routine.
However, the effects of exercise on your immune system are short lived and in order to optimise these effects it is important to exercise regularly.
5. Reduction in Anxiety, Depression and Overall Stress Levels (this one I LOVE)
We have all heard time and time again the overall benefits of regular exercise and the positive effect it has on our mind and body. If you find the Winter days harder to deal with, suffering stress or depression, regular easy exercise is one way to improve your overall sense of well-being. I am a big fan of releasing good endorphins and I find exercise to be the very best form. In doing so I find my happy medium place, keeping stress levels at bay.
Walking, a gentle jog or even run can help you find a level of peace and tranquility.
Lets face it, during Winter half of the battle is taking the first step towards exercise. General rule don’t overthink it, be like a Nike ad and #justdoit if you need accountability arrange to meet a friend (this one works for me every time) and for winters sake, do not look outside the window for a weather check, I have done this and failed many times. Of course the winter grey days will have you questioning your warm bed. Grab your exercise gear, get dressed and before you know it there’s no turning back!