Millions of adults ‘dreading’ winter as their physical activity will reduce, study finds

MILLIONS of adults are ‘dreading’ the winter months – as their physical activity will reduce, according to research.

A study of 2,000 adults found that more than half go outside less in the final season of the year than at any other time – blaming the cold, wet weather, less daylight and a lack of motivation.

And two thirds struggle to get themselves to do any physical activity during the winter months, with 59 per cent naming the weather as the biggest motivator.

But the research also polled 1,000 adults with long-term health conditions and found that only 14 per cent of this group were able to remain motivated to do physical activity during the winter months.

Of those, almost three quarters feel restricted when it comes to doing physical activity in winter due to the weather.

Other reasons included reduced energy (40 per cent), feeling tired (43 per cent) and body aches (37 per cent).

The research was commissioned by We Are Undefeatable, which supports those with long-term health conditions to allow them to be more active.

NHS GP and media medic Dr Dawn Harper, who is working with We Are Undefeatable said: “The study shows how the seasons can impact the amount of movement we’re doing.

“But it can be even harder for people living with a long-term health condition to maintain their physical activity levels, especially in winter.

“We know how important it is for this group to remain active and, as a GP, one of my roles is to reassure those living with a health condition that the benefits of physical activity outweigh the risks, which are very low.”

The study also found that winter can result in a decrease in the amount of physical activity people do each day.

Those living with health issues do almost an hour less of physical activity in winter – an average of 124 minutes a week compared with 169 minutes in the summer.

Whereas the typical adult is active for 142 minutes each week during the colder months compared with just over three hours in the summer months.

It also emerged that doing less or no physical activity leaves people feeling demotivated (34 per cent), tired (28 per cent) and down (24 per cent).

Worryingly, for those with long-term health conditions, winter also leaves them feeling lonely (49 per cent) more than those who don’t have any health-related restrictions (36 per cent).

And 68 per cent of adults with health concerns, polled via OnePoll, feel less confident going outside in the cold and dark to do physical activity.

But many of them have attempted to get moving in their own home, including doing housework (52 per cent), stretching while using worktops or walls to lean against (33 per cent) and using household items as weights (28 per cent).

DR DAWN HARPER’S TIPS FOR REMAINING ACTIVE IN WINTER:

1. Try and make the most of the morning light, by building a gentle walk in to your morning routine.

2. 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 as you wait for the kettle to boil, or lift some baked bean cans whilst cooking – watch this video for some inspiration of other at home activities you can do with household objects: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxgdgPmmDig

3. See if a friend or family member will take part in some physical activity each week with you. This could be for a walk around the park, or you both follow the same online session – this increases motivation to keep going, but can also reduce feelings of loneliness.

4. There are lots 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, beginner, medium and high level: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClEmdVc80h7Gft4olLkwGhw

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