Everybody feels it. The winter chill sets in, and nothing seems better than some quality time on the couch with a cuppa and the latest episode of My Kitchen Rules. And maybe some chocolate too. Or ice cream. Or both.
I get it, and naturally we’re going to lean towards hibernation over the colder months, as the Melbourne weather definitely doesn’t inspire us to tackle the great outdoors. Lara Bingle’s ‘where the bloody hell are ya’ wouldn’t quite work with the grey skies and icy wind that are the current forecast.
But it’s still important to stay active. Even when it’s cold. Especially when it’s cold. Here are a few reasons why.
- At some point, even though we try our best to avoid it, we come into contact with the chill of winter. And this has an effect on our body. Exposure to cold triggers a hard-wired response in our body that constricts blood vessels in our arms and legs, which keeps the warm blood closer to our trunk, maintaining our core temperature and keeping our precious organs warm. This cooling of the extremities can cause muscles to tighten and joints to stiffen. Before we know it, those aches and pains that we haven’t felt since last year come back, and we wish we’d used that treadmill that’s gathering dust in the garage.
- Getting moving and getting warm has the opposite effect! Think about it, before we exercise we always do a ‘warm-up’. This gets the blood flowing, it raises the temperature of our limbs, helps loosen muscles and joints and we feel ready to exercise afterwards. We do a ‘warm-up’ because we know our bodies work better when they’re warm. This applies as a general rule to our overall physical condition too.
- Exercise involves (or it should!) a good stretch beforehand. We all know we should do it, and if you’re truly a teacher’s pet you get the foam roller out too. Stretching improves flexibility and helps ease tight muscles and joints, and the foam roller helps dig into muscles like massage would.
- Sitting posture! There are well-known effects of prolonged sitting that will be covered in more detail in future blogs, but excess couch time can lead to neck and/or back pain! That slump into the couch concentrates pressure on certain parts of your spine, so if you don’t start to feel stiff while you’re there, you’ll feel it when you get up. As a general rule, try not to spend more than 30 minutes on the couch without getting up and moving. Even if for a minute, to go to the bathroom or get a cup of tea is enough to have a significant effect on how much your body tightens up.
- For those of you who are conscious of ‘the summer bod’, you might find November comes and you feel a pang of regret as you see your bodies’ reflection of couch and junk food time. Our body doesn’t lie. It has a really honest way of representing our habits, if we look down and see that belly, there’s always a reason. Isn’t it funny that fit and active people seem to always have less body fat and more defined muscles? Hmm, wonder why.
So in summary, It’s ok to hibernate and retreat to indoors to avoid the chill of winter, but lets not forget the importance of exercise, and how much our body needs and loves it!