Winter days may look pretty but for beautiful bodies who love to be outside getting active, the dark nights and cold days can sap motivation and leave us feeling lethargic, sluggish and grouchy. And with the party season and rich Christmas pickings looming on the frosty horizon, your body and your mind need to find effective training alternatives in order to combat the winter workout blues and to prevent a plumper shadow of our summer selves.
Pilates in the Winter
Far from being just that-low-impact-core-conditioning-class-that’s-good-for-your-back, Pilates (when practiced effectively) also has brilliant mood boosting and circulatory benefits. And on a practical level, Pilates is usually practiced indoors. So who cares if it’s raining, hailing or snowing outside? Once you get the basics down, you can incorporate short workouts into your day.
Pilates can also complement more high intensity training. So if you’re a super charged fit type who needs to compete for her sanity, try thinking of the winter months like an elite level athlete does and use the time out of competition for rehab, training and conditioning.
Tennis ace Serena Williams recently added Pilates to her training regime and Tom Cruise swears he could not have been Ethan Hawke without it. So if you can’t face crawling out of bed for an early morning, frosty workout, do 15 minutes of Pilates mat work in the cozy comfort of your living room instead.
The lack of daylight in winter can wreak havoc with our sleep cycles and mood. According to Sue Pavlovich of the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA) it’s now thought that all of us suffer from SAD to some degree. Winter’s lack of daylight alters our brain’s production of melatonin and serotonin, which is why even the most motivated exerciser can end up snuggled up on the sofa with a good movie and a bowl of popcorn.
Exercise is a brilliant antidote to the winter blues because of the effect it has on our hormones. Train in the morning for a boost of the wake up hormone, cortisol. For the ultimate feel-good workout, combine an intense Pilates sequence with cardio intervals, or a brisk walk outside. That way you’ll get all the conditioning, mobilizing and circulatory benefits of Pilates alongside that cardio-cortisol boost. Plus exercising outside will help you to get as much natural daylight as possible, vital for your brain chemistry.
So before you tuck into your first mince pie of the season, try this essential winter Pilates workout.
Karen is a Pilates and fitness specialist and writer based in Essex. To find out more about Pilates or for more information on the workout, visit www.klhfitness.co.uk or email her at [email protected]
Above: Airex Fitline 140 Mat, £36.67, www.theyogashop.co.uk