Looking After Your Physical And Mental Health In Winter

Seasonal Health 21 November 2021

Article written by Ariane Monnami, nutritionist with degrees in Micro-nutrition and Neuronutrition. 

Winter is a challenging time when trying to stick to exercise plans and every year, despite telling ourselves we would never ‘let ourselves loose’ ever again, this seems to be exactly what happens! Miserable weather conditions, hectic work and personal schedules mean we eventually fall into ‘cocooning mode’ and end up spending our evenings in front of the TV… 

So if you still find it hard get out of the house at this time of year despite knowing the struggle you’ll face trying to get back into your exercise routine later on, then fear not! Here is Hello Day’s plan for putting together your very own home gym… 

Small and practical equipment 

If you’re tight with space and refuse to see things lying around in the middle of your living room, there’s no need to worry – all you need are a few small pieces of equipment that can be easily stored inside a cupboard or under your bed. 

  • A foam floor mat 
  • Dumbbells, 2-5kg depending on your ability – it’s best not to be too ambitious and simply do a few more reps rather than injure yourself with weights that are too heavy! 
  • Exercise bands for resistance training
  • Stopwatch to record different exercises – yes, you really do need a stopwatch! It has been proven that the harder the exercise, the quicker we tend to self-count and the supposed 60 seconds really only turns into 52 at the most… 


Floor work

To strengthen your inner muscles, stimulate your venous return (rate of blood flow back to the heart) and for a slim waistline, consider doing some core strength exercises. 

Core strength exercises are types of exercises where muscles work under pressure and there is little to no movement. They should also be combined with stretching exercises to ease back and neck pain caused by all that time spent working in front of a computer. 


Band Resistance Training 

To obtain toned muscles in a short period of time, there’s nothing better than resistance training exercises similar to those done on weight machines in the gym. Resistance bands and handles can easily be found online and will allow you to do a good variety of exercises – so no need to turn your basement or living room into a full-on weight-lifting room!

Most equipment can also be easily set up using a door for support and can even be taken with you when travelling, so there’s no excuse! 

For each exercise, do about fifteen reps and as soon as you feel capable, do two sets of fifteen. You can also use different bands to increase the resistance as you improve. 


What about cardio? 

If you live in a block of flats, or any multi-storey building, taking the stairs is a great way to fit some cardio into your daily routine! Try to climb the stairs as quickly as possible and gradually increase the number of floors you climb. To make things harder, you can also try to take two steps at a time – a good rhythm is one where you are out of breath but still able to talk. 

You can also do sets of flexion/extension exercises such as squats, making sure you keep a good rhythm and your arms stretched out horizontally in front of you. Thigh muscles are our most powerful muscles, so this exercise can quickly increase heart rate. 

If you’re only still a child at heart and have some free space, rope skipping is another great exercise to do, making sure to keep your feet together. 


Weight-train your brain! 

Yep, your brain also needs training! Recent studies have shown that regular cognitive training has significant effects on reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and the earlier you start, the more effective it is. 

Brain stimulation is even more important if your daily job is particularly repetitive and unfortunately, I don’t think your favourite TV series quite counts as brain training… 

There are several brain training sites online with exercises usually as games or quizzes with varying difficulty levels. Crosswords and Sudoku are also a great way to stimulate your brain. Then of course, good old traditional board games such as Scrabble, Chess, Pictionary, Memory etc, all help to work your memory, strategy, decision making and language skills whilst still spending a good time with family or friends!