Millions of adults ‘fear’ the winter months – because their physical activity will decrease
Two-thirds find it difficult to engage in physical activity during the winter months, with 59% citing bad weather as the main reason.
But the research, which also surveyed 1,000 adults with long-term health conditions, found that only 14% of this group were able to stay motivated and physically active during the winter months.
Of these, almost three-quarters feel limited when it comes to doing physical activity in winter due to the weather.
Other reasons included low energy (40%), feeling tired (43%) and body aches (37%).
The research was commissioned by ‘We Are Undefeatable’, which supports people 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 impact how much movement we make.
“But it can be even more difficult for people living with a long-term health condition to maintain their level of physical activity, especially in winter.
“We know how important it is for this group to stay active and as a GP one of my roles is to reassure people living with a health condition that the benefits of activity physical outweigh the risks, which are very low.”
The study found that people living with health conditions do almost an hour less of physical activity in the winter, an average of 124 minutes per week, compared to 169 minutes in the summer.
And the typical adult is active for 142 minutes each week in the coldest months, compared to just over three hours in the summer months.
It also appeared that doing less or no physical activity left people feeling unmotivated (34%), tired (28%) and depressed (24%).
Worryingly, for those with long-term health issues, winter also leaves them feeling lonely (49%) more than those with no health-related restrictions (36%).
And 68% of adults with health conditions, surveyed via OnePoll, feel less confident going out in the cold and dark to engage in physical activity.
But many of them have tried to move around in their own homes, including doing housework (52%), stretching using counters or walls to lean against (33%) and using household items as weight (28%).
DR. DAWN HARPER’S TIPS FOR STAYING ACTIVE IN WINTER:
- Try to make the most of 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 squats or stretches while you wait for the kettle to boil, or lift cans of beans while cooking – watch this video to inspire you with other at-home activities you can do with household items.
- See if a friend or family member will participate in physical activity each week with you. It could be for a walk in the park, or you both follow the same session online – it increases motivation to keep going, but can also reduce feelings of loneliness.
- There are many free online resources you can follow to get active at home. Find a few on the We Are Undefeatable YouTube playlist, including chair-based activities and moves designed for all abilities, beginner, medium and advanced.