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Cold Hands Warm Heart

When the temperature drops, the urge to hibernate sets in, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Make this the time you warm up by staying in shape with our action plan.

couple biking at gym There are things we love about the cooler months: curling up inside while the rain drizzles down; tucking into hearty casseroles and curries; snuggling under the covers on a gloomy morning. And there are some things we don’t like about this time of year, including the fact most of us may find we’re carrying a couple of extra kilos. It doesn’t take a genius to see the two things are related. You may tell yourself your extra padding is a natural seasonal change, a result of your metabolism slowing as the mercury drops, but we’ve got some bad news – for most of us, it’s simply not true. “It’s not our metabolism that slows down – we’re the ones who slow down,??? says Maree Garside, spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia. “The National Nutrition Survey showed that during winter, not only does our energy and fat intake increase, we also have an increased desire to eat. That’s not so much due to physical hunger; it’s an emotional need we have to feel warm and nourished.??? The good news is exercise not only helps you burn off the kilojoules you’ve already ingested, it makes you feel less hungry in the long term. A Texan study shows training three times a week significantly reduces levels of the hunger hormone leptin. And of course, fit people are less likely to succumb to that other downer, the flu. Canadian researchers found people who trained three times a week significantly increased their immune system’s ability to fight viral and bacterial infections. But, even when you know you should be exercising, it can be hard to get yourself moving. When it’s cold and dark outside, you can always find excuses to stay at home. Here are some ways around them. group of women at gym When you’ve been working all day, and it’s already dark outside, it’s hard to drag yourself to the gym. If you’ve already done your gym class that morning, it doesn’t matter. “It can be hard to get out of bed in the morning, but once you’re up, you feel great,??? says Mei Allen, group fitness manager for No.1 Fitness Club in Sydney. “If your gym is close to work, you’ll avoid peak hour rush too.??? Set your alarm an hour earlier and put it at the far side of the room – that way you’ll have to get up to turn it off.

BUY A PEDOMETER

“We’re supposed to take 10,000 steps a day. It is a lot, but can be incorporated into your day, and a pedometer can help you keep count.??? Mei points out. man watching sunrise at the beach

FIND SOME FRIENDS

Team sports are a great way to have fun with friends or make some new ones. Plus, you’re less likely to skip a workout if you know other people are depending on you. Basketball, indoor netball and indoor cricket are all good options.

EXERCISE AT HOME

If you really can’t bring yourself to leave your home, give yourself some fitness homework. Invest in a yoga or pilates DVD, or even do your gym workout at home. “There are many exercises you can do,??? says Mei. “Try tricep dips on the lounge and push-ups against the wall. If your home has two steps, you can do step-ups.??? A trainer at your local gym will be able to help you create an at-home routine.