A number of Kiwis struggle to keep active and healthy when winter temperatures plummet, but a leading New Zealand exercise expert says gym membership numbers actually go up in winter.
Richard Beddie, chief executive of Exercise NZ, says winter is no excuse to stop training or ease on fitness levels.
"Gyms and other exercise facilities actually increase in numbers in winter, even though exercise needs to be a part of a constant lifestyle, no matter what time of year it is.
"During winter, it can be even more important to maintain an active lifestyle. Not only does working out burn fat, build muscle strength, increase metabolism and keep our hearts healthy, it also helps us to fight off many diseases and illnesses.
"The start of the cold season and the resultant change in routine can be a great opportunity to start a new habit – maybe hot yoga for winter 2017?”
Richard says there are many studies indicating that exercise helps to increase our immune systems, which is important during the winter months.
"We know it takes a bit longer to warm up, but for those who can train outdoors, they can get through winter without hibernating like a bear.
"When it’s warm inside, and cold out, it’s often tempting to be less active, but those who do exercise will tell you how it helps beat the winter blues as well as providing all the regular benefits of exercise.
"Exercising throughout winter means that people will also be feeling great once summer arrives. An exercised body is a healthy body which translates to a better immune system, which can reduce winter illnesses.
Richard says it’s important to make sure you aren’t taking any unnecessary risks when exercising outdoors in winter.
"With proper advice from registered exercise professionals, training outdoors is safe throughout the winter months. When it feels just too frosty, training at an indoor exercise facility will ensure Kiwis get all the exercise benefits they could from outdoor sessions.
"The key is finding a routine and time that works for each person. For some, that’s early mornings, but for others it’s after work or maybe a 30-minute exercise snack during the middle of the day.
"In addition to individuals feeling better, businesses and organisations appreciate healthy staff which is most likely to result in fewer sick days.”