Over half of the adults go outside less when the cold weather hits and shorter days come creeping in – and almost two thirds struggle to perform physical activity at all
Photo: Tim Graham / Getty Images)
Millions of adults “dread” the winter months because they know their physical activity will decrease, research has shown.
A study of 2,000 adults found that more than half go much less outside as the nights draw in – which is due to the cold, wet weather, less daylight and lack of motivation.
Two-thirds struggle to get themselves physically active during the winter months, with 59 percent citing adverse weather as the biggest cause.
But the research, which also examined 1,000 adults with long-term health problems, found that only 14 percent of this group were able to stay motivated and engage in physical activity during the winter months.
Of those, nearly three-quarters feel limited when it comes to engaging in physical activity in the winter due to the weather.
Robin Utrecht / SOPA Images / Getty Images
Other causes included decreased energy (40 percent), fatigue (43 percent) and body aches (37 percent).
The research was commissioned by “We Are Undefeatable”, which supports those with long-term health conditions to enable them to be more active.
NHS GP and media doctor Dr. Dawn Harper, who works with We Are Undefeatable, said: “The study shows how the seasons can affect the amount of movement we do.
“But it can be even harder for people living with a long-term health condition to maintain their level of physical activity, especially in the winter.
“We know how important it is for this group to stay active, and as a general practitioner, one of my roles is to assure those living with a health condition that the benefits of physical activity outweigh the risks, which are very low. . “
The study found that those living with health problems do almost an hour less physical activity in the winter – an average of 124 minutes a week compared to 169 minutes in the summer.
And the typical adult is active for 142 minutes each week during the colder months, compared to just over three hours during the summer months.
It was also found that less or no physical activity makes people feel demotivated (34 percent), tired (28 percent) and down (24 percent).
Worryingly, for those with long-term health problems, winter also leaves them lonely (49 percent) more than those who have no health-related restrictions (36 percent).
And 68 percent of adults with health problems, surveyed via OnePoll, feel less confident going outside in the cold and darkness to perform physical activity.
But many of them have tried to get started in their own home, including doing housework (52 percent), stretching while using countertops or walls to lean on (33 percent) and using household items as weights (28 percent ).
DR DAWN HARPER’S TIP TO STAY ACTIVE IN WINTER:
- Try to get the most out of the morning light by incorporating a gentle walk into your morning routine.
- Doing little and often can make a big difference to your physical and mental well-being. You may find it helpful to start small. Try doing some squats or stretches while you wait for the kettle to boil, or lift some baked bean cans while you cook – watch this video for inspiration for other home activities you can do with household items.
- See if a friend or family member will engage in physical activity each week with you. It can be a walk around the park, or you both follow the same online session – it increases the motivation to continue, but can also reduce the feeling of loneliness.
- There are plenty of free resources online that you can follow to get active at home – find some on the We Are Undefeatable YouTube playlist, including chair-based activities and movements designed for all abilities, beginners, intermediate and high level.
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