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Get active during winter
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Get active during winter

Get ready to go with our winter workout tips.

Are the cold and the wet getting in the way of you getting (or keeping) active this winter?

You’re not alone. Many of us know what it’s like when the alarm goes off at 5:30 am, and it’s time to get moving. The mercury is hovering somewhere south of where we’d like it to be. Maybe it’s raining. And, the wind may be howling!

It’s safer, more comfortable and warmer in bed, so that’s where many of us stay as we promise ourselves that we’ll be up and raring to go when the alarm goes off tomorrow.

But, did you know that a lack of physical activity is responsible for 11% of the disease burden associated with coronary heart disease and 10–20% of disease burden for related diseases (Australian Institute of Health & Welfare 2017)?

Getting active and staying active this winter will warm you up, and it could also help you beat heart disease. 

But it’s cold, and it’s wet!

Yes, it’s dark. Perhaps it’s raining. No doubt the temperature is struggling to get up into the double digits when your alarm goes off in the morning. This weather is hardly tempting you to charge out the front door to go for a run. Even the dog is cowering in their bed, terrified you will take them out for a morning stroll.

Yet, at this time of year, optimists will tell you there’s never a better time to get active! Be a glass half full person and consider the plusses of exercising in winter: there’s no extreme heat, you are less likely to sweat too much, there are no pesky flies and, depending on where you live, no snakes out and about.

There’s not very much you can do to control the climate outside. With gyms in some places still closed due to COVID-19 restrictions (at the time of writing), there aren’t as many indoor exercise options as you would like. However, it’s still possible to get active and look after your heart in the depths of winter.

If you want to avoid the impact of winter weather, the obvious option is to exercise indoors:

  • If you are working from home, take regular exercise breaks through the day. Start by stepping away from your computer or laptop every 20 – 30 minutes. At this time, take a brisk walk around the house, play with your dog or cat or spend five minutes vigorously tidying up a large area, like the lounge room

Mix in some exercises and stretches to build strength and flexibility:

  • Climb the staircase (if you have one); it’s easy and accessible, and if you do it quickly, you can work up a sweat if you go up and down a few times in a row. Start with a target of climbing up and down 3 – 5 times in a row, and work up from there. If you don’t have a staircase at home or work, find a step outside and do some step-ups
  • Get in a YouTube time machine and join in some 1980s or 1990s exercise videos; you can laugh at the fashions as you follow along to luminaries such as Richard Simmons, Aerobics Down Under, Jane Fonda or Aerobics Oz Style

Run, ride or workout in the local park; just be prepared for the cold

You can get active outside and get all the heart health benefits if you are prepared. As it is cold and wet out, your best approach is to dress in layers; this way, you can start snug and warm and shed some of your winter gear as your body warms up.

Start with a Tank Tee, and then add a T-shirt or Hoodie Sweatshirt; remember that layers are the key! Also, wear tracksuit pants and running shoes. Pay special attention to the shoes’ grip; you will want to make sure you don’t trip or slip when walking or running on wet footpaths or roads.

“There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

- Alfred Wainwright, author and illustrator.


If you’re riding your bike, make sure your lights are working and check the batteries before you head off. You will need to swap your usual exercise clothes for something that has high visibility, especially if you are riding in the dark or the rain.

You may not even think of this, because of the weather, but it’s vital to stay hydrated when you are exercising, so be sure to have plenty of water with you. Your body needs water to help your heart pump more easily and to help the oxygen in your blood to reach your muscles.

Other ideas to stay warm and protected when exercising outdoors include:

  • Be sure to warm up first, and add some stretching, before heading out
  • Protect your head and your hands. Your body loses heat through its extremities, so wear a beanie or warm hat and gloves
  • Check the weather forecast before you head out; this can help you avoid heavy rain or a storm. You’ll enjoy your exercise more, and you will be safer and more comfortable
  • Keep it social by joining a Heart Foundation Walking group or exercising with friends. Exercising together keeps things fun, it boosts mental health and helps you to stay motivated 

Being active in winter isn’t always easy, but it’s important for your heart health.

After going for a run or exercising, reward yourself with a heart-healthy and hearty winter recipe from the Heart Foundation. Try our breakfast burrito, cottage pie, bolognese pasta bake, and fruit crumble.

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