John Pierre is a nutrition and fitness consultant who has devoted more than a quarter century to helping to improve the lives of others through his expertise in the areas of geriatrics, nutrition, fitness, women’s empowerment, green living, and cognitive retainment and improvement. A dedicated activist, John works with people of all ages promoting the benefits of a plant-based diet, stress reduction, physical fitness, and the importance of living a loving and compassionate life. He is a popular personal trainer who conducts group fitness boot camps and works with individual clients, and he was kind enough to share some excellent tips on how to stay active during the cold winter months with us!
Fanning the Flames of Motion During a Frosty Season
The chilly winter months tend to make us want to huddle down and stay sedentary. Prolonged immobility, however, often comes with a number of negative consequences including fatigue, depression, weight gain, decreased circulation, and a compromised immune system. Keeping the flames of motion burning consistently throughout the day is especially important during the winter season when our immune system may be additionally challenged by viruses, dehydration, and a lack of sunshine.
That’s why it’s critical to invite motion into your day. Movement increases blood flow, releases feel-good brain chemicals which fend away depression, and stimulates our lymph system; a critical component in keeping our immune system strong and resilient.
My philosophy about motion is very simple: Every time we perform a movement, it’s like throwing a pebble into a pond; the positive ripple effects are immensely beneficial to our body. The favorable waves of motion shake us out of our hibernation mode and help us build the momentum we need to keep moving consistently.
There are numerous methods of adding more motion into your daily routine and I suggest trying several to see which techniques work best for you. My clients have found the following tips to be easy to commit to and fun to implement:
- If you sit behind a desk for most of your day, make it a point to perform at least 10 squats every hour. Each set should take less than one minute. Set a timer to help you remember to do this until it becomes a habit. Since prolonged sitting can tighten our hip flexers over time, resulting in lost mobility and back pain, squatting frequently helps counter this negative effect. Additionally, squatting challenges the large muscles in our legs and gets our circulation moving.
- Keep small fitness gear in each room of your home and at the office or carry a lightweight jump rope or fitness band in your purse or bag. If you’re stuck on a boring conference call, simply grab your hand weights or fitness band and perform a few challenging motions. If you can’t bring small fitness equipment to the office, you can still do pushups using the side of a desk or the floor. You can similarly work up to doing one-arm pushups off the kitchen counter at home.
- When you’re speaking on the phone, make it a habit to stand up or pace while conversing. Standing wakes up the muscles in your legs and pacing additionally helps to get the blood flow moving, increasing cognitive function. Such seemingly small additions all add up to big benefits.
- One of the few times we reach up over our head is when we’re getting something from a top shelf. This makes reaching up toward the sky one of the most neglected motions we perform. Be sure to reach your hands above your head frequently, whether sitting or standing. Breathe deeply and hold the stretch for several seconds.
- Try to get at least 12 minutes of nonstop movement in during the day to keep your heart aerobically fit. If you’re new to consistent movement, start off slowly and gradually increase your time. Use every opportunity to fit in challenging motions. Take the stairs (if it’s safe), walk around the block after lunch, etc.
- Hide your TV remote controller so you have to get up and change the channel. Sneak in a few motions before you sit back down.
- Use commercial times as workout times. See how many motions you can perform before the commercial is over.
- Try to get some fresh air and sun exposure during sunny days. Sunshine is vitally important for adequate vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency can often exacerbate depression symptoms and lethargy, making us feel too tired to add challenging motions into our day.
- Reward yourself with an occasional treat after a week of or two of accomplishing your fitness goals. My clients enjoy giving themselves a small reward such as a dairy free ice cream by So Delicious Dairy Free.
By continuing to fan the flames of a motion-filled lifestyle during the cold winter season, you’ll stay active year-round and enjoy the countless health benefits.