Dr Dawn Harper’s tips for remaining active in winter
Lucy Fieldhouse | 23rd November 2021
According to research millions of adults are ‘dreading’ the winter months as their physical activity will reduce.
A study of 2,000 adults found that more than half go outside less in the final season of the year than at any other time – blaming the cold, wet weather, less daylight and a lack of motivation.
Two thirds struggle to get themselves to do any physical activity during the winter months, with 59 per cent naming the weather as the biggest motivator.
The research also polled 1,000 adults with long-term health conditions and found that only 14 per cent of this group were able to remain motivated to do physical activity during the winter months. Of those, almost three quarters feel restricted when it comes to doing physical activity in winter due to the weather.
Image credit: Karl Solano from Pexels
The research was commissioned by We Are Undefeatable, which supports those with long-term health conditions to allow them to be more active.
NHS GP and media medic Dr Dawn Harper, who is working with We Are Undefeatable said: “The study shows how the seasons can impact the amount of movement we’re doing.
“But it can be even harder for people living with a long-term health condition to maintain their physical activity levels, especially in winter.
“We know how important it is for this group to remain active and, as a GP, one of my roles is to reassure those living with a health condition that the benefits of physical activity outweigh the risks, which are very low.”
Image credit: Tirachard Kumtanom @Pexels
It also emerged that doing less or no physical activity leaves people feeling demotivated (34 per cent), tired (28 per cent) and down (24 per cent).
Worryingly, for those with long-term health conditions, winter also leaves them feeling lonely (49 per cent) more than those who don’t have any health-related restrictions (36 per cent).
68 per cent of adults with health concerns, polled via OnePoll, feel less confident going outside in the cold and dark to do physical activity. But many of them have attempted to get moving in their own home, including doing housework (52 per cent), stretching while using worktops or walls to lean against (33 per cent) and using household items as weights (28 per cent).
Image credit: Anna Shvets @Pexels
Dr Dawn Harper's tips for remaining active in winter:
1. “Try and make the most of the morning light, by building a gentle walk in to your morning routine.”
2. “Doing little and often can make a big difference to your physical and mental well-being. You may find it helpful to start small. Try doing some squats or stretches as you wait for the kettle to boil, or lift some baked bean cans whilst cooking!”
3. “See if a friend or family member will take part in some physical activity each week with you. This could be for a walk around the park, or you both follow the same online session – this increases motivation to keep going, but can also reduce feelings of loneliness.”
4. “There are lots of free resources online that you can follow to get active at home, find some on the We Are Undefeatable YouTube playlist, including chair based activities and movements designed for all abilities, beginner, medium and high level.”