Staying active and healthy in the autumn and winter months
When the weather turns colder and the nights are longer, it can be hard to stay motivated, especially when it comes to exercise. Exercise performs a key role in regulating mood and boosting immunity, both of which lead to a healthier and happier life.
Why do we exercise less in the autumn and winter?
A survey of 2,000 adults who exercise regularly throughout the summer found nearly three-quarters experienced a decrease in activity throughout the winter. Difficulties getting out of bed, safety concerns about exercising alone in the dark and having less energy were just some of the reasons observed for this decrease. However, over 70% admitted their decrease in activity was due to colder temperatures, with 57% being put off by the dark, cold mornings and evenings.
Exercising with a group, training at home, healthy eating and remembering to wrap up warm may help you to maintain a regular exercise routine.
What nutrients can support you with exercise?
Carbohydrates: found in wholegrains, pasta, bread, rice, potato, and bananas
The body stores carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, which is used for fuel during physical activity (Gollnick & Matoba, 2984).
Protein: found in chicken, fish, meat, meat alternatives, beans, nuts, eggs, and dairy products.
Protein is important in exercise performance as it can boost glycogen storage, reduce muscle soreness and promote muscle repair (Jager, et al., 2017).
Iron: found in meat, fish, chicken, legumes, fortified cereals, and spinach.
Iron is a key component in oxygen transportation around the body and to muscles, which is essential for exercise (Borkowska, et al., 2019).
Vitamin D: found in egg yolks, fatty fish, fortified milk, and cereals
Vitamin D the sunshine vitamin has an important role in muscle function, muscle strength and physical performance (Rejnmark, 2011). NHS guidelines recommend 10mcg for most individuals during winter months (NHS, 2020).
- Borkowska, A., Halon-Golabek, M., Herman-Antosiewicz, A. & Antosiewicz, J., 2019. Iron Metabolism of the Skeletal Muscle and Neurodegeneration. Front Neurosci, 13(165).
- Gollnick, P. & Matoba, H., 2984. Role of carbohydrate in exercise. Clin Sports Med, 3(3), pp. 583-93.
- NHS, 2020. Vitamin D: Vitmains and minerals. [Online]
Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/
[Accessed 31 01 2023].
- Rejnmark, L., 2011. Effects of Vitamin D on Muscle Function and Performance: A Review of Evidence from Randomized Controlled Trials. Ther Adv Chronic Dis, 2(1), pp. 25-37.
- R, Jager. et al., 2017. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 14(20).