Research has shown that people are generally less active in the winter – it’s colder and there are less hours of daylight. But keeping active during the winter months has been shown to support immunity and mental health. Gastroenterology Dietitian Dr Sammie Gill shares some easy ways to keep active in the lead up to Christmas.
Exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on the composition of the gut microbiome and what it produces. In fact, those who exercise regularly tend to have a more diverse gut microbiome. What’s more, there seems to be a shift in the types of microbes present, including ‘short chain fatty acid (SCFAs) producers’. SCFAs are beneficial compounds that support gut health - they have anti-inflammatory effects, they are fuel for gut cells and they suppress growth of potentially harmful microbes.
Here are six easy ways to include more movement into your day:
1. Go for a countryside walk or visit a local park – check the weather ahead, layer up and head outside with a friend or family member. There are plenty of suggestions for walking trails on the National Trust and Walking Britain websites.
2. If you’re working from home, try using a standing desk! If not, put aside 5-10 minutes of chair exercises every few hours including tricep dips, squats, calf raises, and desk pushups.
3. Visit your local indoor pool – you could try lane swimming or aqua aerobics? Many leisure centres are pay-as-you-go so you don’t need to commit to full gym membership.
4. Home workouts – with so many super quick 10–15-minute YouTube workouts online, why not try in the comfort of your own living room? Mix it up and include strength-based exercises (e.g. legs, bums and tums), dance, aerobics, and yoga/Pilates.
5. Do some winter gardening – whether it’s raking leaves, planting and pruning trees or prepping for next year, it all counts!
6. Why not take a trip to an indoor ice rink (outdoor ice rinks tend to pop up around Christmas too!) or bowling alley with the family?