Follow these five simple ways to increase your physical activity during the cold, winter months

Log fires… snuggly blankets… the lure of the Quality Street tin. The short days and long winter nights may bring comfort but they are also likely to zap your motivation when it comes to doing exercise. Excuses begone with these top tips.

1.  Spring into Action
Plan ahead and sign up for a physical challenge in the spring – maybe a long bike ride, half-marathon or demanding swim. This goal will keep you focused on your training and inspire you to make healthy lifestyle choices during the winter months. The thought of not being prepared will encourage you to prioritise your exercise plan, come rain, wind or snow. Want an extra boost of motivation? Make the event you enter a sponsored one for your favourite charity.

2. A Home Win

Often in winter, once you’re home, the thought of going out again to brave the elements is about as appealing as Donald Trump in a mankini. And if it’s the gym waiting for you, well, it’s little wonder that your sofa and Netflix will most likely win every time. Solve this problem by working out at home. You could do an exercise DVD or YouTube workouts. Or invest in some kit that will keep things both interesting and challenging – like a skipping rope, a stability ball or TRX equipment. You could create a mini circuit class and invite friends over to join in, setting up various workout stations to incorporate everything from cardio to resistance training.

3. Combat Colds

Nothing quashes the motivation to exercise more than a stinking cold, so it’s important to support your immune system, particularly with vitamins A, C, D, E, iron and zinc. A diet rich in leafy green vegetables, oranges, nuts and seeds should keep the sniffles at bay. Eating hearty soups with beans and lentils in will also help to keep you fighting fit and ready to don your trainers. This is because the average bean or lentil is full of B vitamins, magnesium and iron, which are all great energy-boosters.

4. Buddy Up

Your alarm goes off, you groan, hit the snooze button and pull the duvet over your head. Seven times. Despite your best intentions to get up early to exercise, it’s often all too tempting to stay in your cocoon come morning. To combat this, arrange to meet a friend to work out with. The thought of leaving them standing in the cold waiting for you should be motivation enough to drag yourself out of bed. Then after your workout you can reward yourselves with a tasty breakfast.

5. Best in Class

In the summer, exercising outside – breathing in fresh air while feeling the sun on your skin – is appealing. In the winter, with rain lashing your face and wind biting your cheeks, less so. Use the winter months to step inside and try new things. There are a whole host of classes you can take – whether you want to go conventional (yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, circuits) or something a little more ‘out there’ (hula-hooping, belly-dancing, barre, synchronised swimming). Why not use the winter to step out of your comfort zone?