Resolutions fallen by the wayside? Same. We all know exercise is good for us but, let’s face it, it’s hard when daylight hours are limited. Suddenly the sofa becomes a lot more appealing than pounding the treadmill (especially now gyms are closed). If you’re in need of some motivation to get moving this January, we’re on hand with four winter workout ideas, plus our collection of sportswear. Let’s do this!
Why? There are so many benefits to running, especially when it comes to stamina and cardiovascular fitness. As well as burning off those extra calories, experts say that running boosts your mood (hello endorphins) and reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes.
How? You just put one foot in front of the other, right? Well yes, but there’s a bit more to it than that. The key to running is to start small and gradually build up your routine. It might be tempting to go full pelt at first, but you don’t want to get a stitch two minutes into your run. We recommend following a simple training plan like Couch to 5K which sets realistic goals, makes the challenge feel more achievable and gets you into the habit of running regularly. You don’t need to be Mo Farah to give it a go, almost anyone can become a runner (even if the most you’ve done before is sprint for the bus).
Top tip: You should always do a short warm-up walk to prevent injury.
Why? Strength training isn’t just about bulking up your biceps and building muscle mass (although that’s welcome a bonus). Studies show that it also increases bone density and joint flexibility, improves posture, boosts your metabolism and, best of all, helps you sleep better.
How? As a first-timer, weightlifting can be pretty daunting and it’s hard to know where to start. But you don’t need all the (dumb)bells and whistles to pack on muscle. You can do it at home with minimal equipment like free weights, resistance bands or even a couple of cans of baked beans. Start by building a solid foundation with body weight exercises before progressing onto more advanced lifting routines. Squats, push-ups, mountain climbers, planks, burpees, leg raises, bench dips, glute bridges and step-back lunges are all great strengthening exercises that will help your form. We recommend doing these moves in one-minute intervals two to three times a week. Not sure how? London-based personal trainer Simon Motie is on hand with 6 gym-free moves for staying fit at home.
Top tip: Strength training causes tiny tears in the muscle tissue, so it’s important to rest before your next session.
Why? Cycling is a low-impact activity, making it a great option for people who want an intense winter workout without stressing their joints. Not only is it an environmentally friendly way to travel, experts say that cycling also increases cardiovascular fitness, strengthens leg muscles, improves balance, allows you to see the countryside and most importantly, it’s fun.
How? Riding a bike is simple. You probably learnt at a young age and feel it’s time to get back in the saddle (well, on the saddle). Whether you want to get into mountain biking or road cycling, you can’t get started without a set of wheels. Not sure what style of bike to choose? An all-terrain hybrid is suitable for both countryside tracks and smooth tarmac, making it a good option for new riders. If you don’t want to commit to buying a bike just yet, there are hundreds of rental facilities across the UK. As with any physical activity, you’ll need to build up your endurance, so we recommend following an eight-week training plan like British Cycling’s Sofa to 50K. Now where to go? Useful apps like Komoot make it easy to plan routes. You simply select your riding style, pick your start and end points, and the app will do the rest. Lycra optional.
What to wear? A technical t-shirt, bike shorts and a weatherproof jacket, plus a decent helmet (safety first). Go for smooth fabrics to prevent chaffing.
Top tip: Make sure your saddle height is just right. Ideally, there should be a slight bend in your knee when your foot is on the bottom pedal. This will enable you to ride longer and push harder.
Why? Stretching is a key component of any well-rounded exercise routine, so why not take it a step further and get into yoga. It may not sound as exciting as pumping iron or hardcore HIIT sessions, but yoga (or broga as we like to call it) can really enhance your fitness goals. As well as promoting flexibility and mobility, studies show that it improves circulation, helps prevent injury in other sports, strengthens your core and relieves stress and anxiety.
How? The art of getting bendy requires very little equipment. In fact, you could work through most beginner yoga flows with just a towel. From Hatha to Bikram, there are many different types of yoga, and one of the most popular is Vinyasa – also called ‘flow yoga’ because of the seamless way one pose flows into the next. Choose a quiet, uncluttered space in your house and spend 10-15 minutes practising some simple poses like seated side stretch, child’s pose and reclined cobbler. There are loads of free YouTube tutorials or you can learn some basic stress-relieving moves with our friends at Dorothy Perkins.
Top tip: Always spend a few minutes warming up with jumping jacks and high knees before stretching.
Workout done? Pull on a hoodie and a pair of joggers to keep your muscles warm. Our sporty MB collection is ideal for relaxing in after pushing yourself to the limits.