Working out in the winters is harder than in the summers? Not really. The only difference is that in winters it takes time to warm up the body so chances of injury are more. In summers it is dehydration and hence muscles start cramping leading to injury. But in winters there is no question of dehydration. Spend more time in mobility drills and warm-ups.
You can start your day by unlocking your joints and flexing your tendons and proceed to do some surya namaskars. “Yoga is a great way of working out if you decide to stay indoors instead of stepping out in harsh winter conditions. So you can choose to do yin yoga where you do an asana and stay in that posture for five to ten minutes and experience complete relaxation and slip into a meditative stage,” says Harsha Bhantia, a yoga instructor who runs women-centric ‘Happy Yoga’ in Kolkata.
Yoga for joint pain in winter
Seems tough? But yin yoga is precisely what can save you from winter stiffness and prevent joint pain. But if you have the will power to push yourself to going outdoors, then enjoy the weather with boot camps, interval training, sprinting and body circuits.
“During winters you don’t sweat compared to the summers and train hard breaking away from the monotony of training within the four walls of a gym. I would prefer training outdoors than hitting the gym during winters,” says Neeraj Surana, strength and conditioning trainer and operations director of Rush Fitness, a chain of gyms in Kolkata.
He adds, that even in a place like Delhi where the winter chill makes you want to stay indoors, start your workout outdoors late around 7 am unlike summers where stepping out earlier is better. For serious athletes, 5:30 am during winters is not an obstacle. What would make you get out of your blanket earlier in the day and step outdoors to work out? It is all about conditioning the mind.
Let’s look at some interesting exercises that you can do outdoors minus the monotony of gym equipments. Spend time on compound and multi-joint exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, crawling, pull-ups, suspension trainer to add extra strength and stability. You can add push-ups, farmers walk or use unconventional ways for resistance like carrying bricks, hanging from the football post.
Seems next to impossible? The good part is it is not true that it is difficult to lose weight in winters. In summers there is more of a problem of water weight. Says Neeraj, “Fat loss is weight loss and I think in winters you can do an extra repetition without sweating and can go longer without cramps.”
Why ashtanga yoga (yoga vinyasa)?
Compound and multi-joint exercises give you the biggest bank for your buck. In the shortest time period you get the maximum benefit. Because they involve a lot of muscle groups rather than weights. When you use more than one or two muscle groups, you become stronger, burn more calories and in turn lose fat. If you are eating right that is.
If you think intense workouts outdoors are not what suit you, then try some dynamic yoga or power yoga as it is also called. So instead of doing a static asana you can opt for ashtanga yoga or yoga vinyasa where you follow a sequence with proper focus on breath which not just warms up your body but also uplifts your mood bringing down stress and anxiety levels. So combine this with surya namaskar and some meditation to bring you out of winter hibernation and start off your workout regime when monotony sets in after the party season.
Says Harsha, “You can include asanas such as sarvang asana, hal asana, chakra asana, shirshasana known as the headstand and warrior one, two and three, also known as veerbhadra asana.”
Drinking too much hampers workout
Your fitness regime is incomplete without a proper diet which is a big factor. People tend to drink a lot during the party season. “If you tell someone not to do something at all or stop completely, the person won’t be happy. The key to health and happiness is moderation in food and alcohol. How you drink is important. I would suggest, stay away from aerated drinks and soda which are empty calories. Also drink a glass of water between each drink to fill your stomach and drink less.”
Drinking too much often hampers your workout regime the next day. When it comes to food, if you have roast chicken on the menu it takes a lot to decide that it is better than malai chicken. It depends on how you want to achieve your goals and your will power to take you to the next milestone. It would be easy to choose the right food, eat at the right time and in right quantities.
While your social outings and holidays might prevent you from pursuing intense routine workouts, even if you manage to squeeze in a serious dose of workouts twice a week, you are on track.
Incorporate body weight exercise like squats, lunges, go for a run or walk on the beach. If you are holidaying at a hill station go for long walks which are the best form of exercise when you don’t have anything else to do.
Butter is bad fat, fish oil is good fat, it has omega-3
Don’t forget to watch your diet too while holidaying and you don’t have to starve with sumptuous food on the menu luring you. After all most people worry about holiday weight once they are back to the grind. What you can do is make smart choices. Look at food as units. Says Neeraj, “If you have an option where you have butter and fish oil, you know that butter is bad fat and fish oil is good fat, hence the choice becomes easier.” Avoid taste buds taking over the mind and instead eat what is required to help you go about your day-to-day activities.
Avoid simple sugars and simple carbohydrates like white bread, white rice and maida. Oats and brown rice are better. Vegetables and fruits provide fibre and proteins are consumed through fish, eggs and lentils. Some people say dairy products are a ‘no no’. But milk and yogurt give calcium especially for women as they are more prone to joint issues than men. Include milk and yogurt, almonds, walnuts, fish oil, flax seeds and different types of seeds – all good in omega 3.
To add some warmth, add some ginger or hot soups to your diet and you are good to go. Food laced with oil too like coconut oil keeps you warm, but you sure don’t want to gain weight. So again it is about healthy food, that can do the trick. For something to keep you awake during the winters, how about a hot cuppa coffee? No harm in that. After all a cuppa coffee can also brew some great conversations on a cold winter’s day.