The 34th Great North Run will take place this weekend, with a record number of runners – almost 60,000 – taking part and raising millions for charity. This year the event will become the first in the world to welcome home its millionth finisher – that’s a lot of running going on!
For many, the onset of autumn with the change in the weather and shorter days can mean an end or compromise to their fitness routine. After all, when it’s cold and dark outside it can be much harder to get motivated. So here are some tips on how to maintain your fitness during the colder months…
- Set yourself goals. You need a plan for exactly where you want to go and what you want to improve – for example you could aim to learn a new stroke in swimming or you could enter an event or race for February/March.
- Warm up and cool down properly. This is so important in the colder months. Even athletes can get a bit lazy with warming up but it’s what gets your muscles loose and your body ready for a tough work out. Try dynamic stretching to warm up – holding each stretch for at least 6 seconds and then release and stretch again. Cooling down is just as important – try spending 10 minutes doing a light jog and then cycling for 15 minutes on the stationary bike.
- Try interval training. Interval training is great because it enables you to burn more calories – and fat – in less time! It can be as simple as sprinting between two telephone poles and then walking for the next two, or a regimented plan using a stopwatch and specific training schedule. Either way, adding just a couple sessions of interval training to your workouts each week is sure to boost your fitness level, quickly!
- Build muscle. This is a great time to work on building muscle strength.Strength training can slow the muscle loss that comes with age, build the strength of your muscles and connective tissues, increase bone density, cut your risk of injury and help ease arthritic pain. Studies have found that muscle-building exercise can also improve balance, reduce the likelihood of falls, improve blood-sugar control, and improve sleep and mental health. Start by doing some squats and weight when you get inside from a run or walk. You could try using cans of beans as weights!
- Have fun! This is perhaps the most important part of the plan! Enjoy what you do and you’ll want to do it again – and again. If you’re struggling you’re with your chosen sport/exercise, don’t be afraid to try something new. Make exercise a social occasion by asking a friend to join you after work for some support and get fit together.
Tips adapted from World Junior No.1 tennis player, Belinda Bencic for Nelsons arnicare Arnica Cooling Gel, £5.15 for 30g, available from Boots, Holland and Barrett, pharmacies and health food stores nationwide. Visit www.arnicare.co.uk for more information.