As winter hits some people might admit that their fitness levels plummet like the temperature as reaching for the mince pies becomes more likely than a high intensity work out! In fact, recent research revealed that a third of British women confessed that the weather in winter had a detrimental influence on their fitness as they put off exercising when it was too wet, windy or cold[i].

Even though we might sometimes feel like forgoing  our exercise routine in favour for a cosy night in, giving ourselves the excuse that we’re just “too tired” to work out tonight can play havoc on our energy levels as well as our fitness levels and waistline!  In fact, exercise is a great tool to fight fatigue by improving your muscle strength and boosting endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently – so if you want to feel energised through winter, then exercise is a great tool.

If anyone knows the importance of keeping up their fitness levels throughout the winter months it’s Pro-cyclist and Olympic Gold medallist Joanna Rowsell. Here she gives her top tips on how to use exercise to maintain energy levels throughout the winter.

  • Schedule exercise. In the run up to Christmas all of our diaries can get considerably busier with lots of social events. Make sure that you schedule in exercise, even if it’s just for half an hour, at least three times a week and stick to it like you would any other appointment. On the days when you don’t do any exercise I would also recommend doing some light activity such as a brisk walking during your lunch break which is a great way to perk yourself up for the afternoon.
  • Set goals. I always have my targets I am aiming for as an athlete but I also set short term goals week by week and I think everyone should set short, medium and long term goals. Whether that is to cycle a certain distance or complete a certain number of hours of training in a week, goals will help keep you focussed and motivated day-to-day.
  • Get outside. Winter doesn’t always mean rain and wind; sometimes we have beautiful crisp days filled with sunshine so make the most of them by getting outdoors. I love going out for a bike ride on days like this to soak up sunrays.
  • Mix it up. If you are bored of pounding the treadmill try mixing up your exercise routine by adding some winter sports like ice skating or indoor skiing in to the mix.  Making exercise fun and exciting will ensure that it’s something to look forward to rather than a chore.
  • Ramp it up. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is a brilliant time efficient way of completing a good workout. I often do HIIT on an indoor bike by cycling 30s seconds flat out followed by 30s recovery time. With 5 reps of this preceded by a 10 min warm up and followed by a 10 min warm down, you have done a great session in just 25 minutes. Short hard workouts are often easier to motivate yourself to do than a lengthy exercise regime. You can also do similar things on a treadmill or by doing different types of functional moves like burpees followed by mountain climbers to mix things up. There are lots of apps that you can download to give you some more ideas.
  • Think long term. Even as a professional athlete there are always days when the weather’s bad and I’d prefer to stay in bed, but I always remind myself of the long term goal. Whether that is a competition coming up or a target weight you are trying to reach, remind yourself of the bigger picture and how it will pay off long term.
  • Maintain your iron. To help maintain energy levels and oxygen efficiency I take Spatone Apple, a natural liquid iron food supplement every morning. The added Vitamin C in Spatone Apple can increase iron absorption for active people so it’s great to take if you are exercising over winter. It is also easily absorbed and easy on the stomach and the handy sachets are great when I’m travelling.
  • Eat a balanced diet. The key to a healthy diet in my opinion is balance. So as well as keeping on top of my fruit and veg I will also treat myself to some chocolate or cake when I’ve worked hard. My mantra is everything in moderation!
  • Motivating mantras. To motivate yourself to exercise consider all of the psychological benefits of exercising including a better mood and reducing stress. I don’t see my training as a sacrifice even if it sometimes means missing out on a social occasion. It’s true that you will never regret a work out, but you might possibly regret NOT doing one.
  • Home workouts. Around New Year a lot of fantastic works out DVDs come out – they are especially good for rainy days. Instead of sitting on the sofa to watch TV when you get in from work put on your favourite work out DVD. This is also a great way to save time in a busy week. Exercises like planks, sit ups and press ups will all help you tone up and can be easily done in the comfort of your sitting room in just a few minutes.
  • Recovery. Recovery is the most important part of training. Simply, if you don’t recover from the exercise you are doing you won’t get the gains. Sleep is an essential part of a healthy routine and lifestyle so make sure you prioritise it. One good way to promote good sleep through exercise is by taking a yoga class in the evening as it’s great for relaxation. It’s inside too, so no excuse to not go if it’s cold outside!

Spatone Apple contains Spatone iron rich water sourced from the Welsh mountains of Snowdonia National Park – which can help top up iron levels whilst causing fewer of the unpleasant side effects often experienced with conventional iron food supplements[ii]. Generally, iron is a very difficult mineral for the body to absorb. However, the iron naturally present in Spatone has been shown to be easily absorbed, with an average of 40% bioavailability[iii]. Food and iron food supplements typically have a 5-20%[iv] bioavailability. Furthermore, Spatone Apple is combined with natural apple concentrate, with the vitamin C helping the absorption of iron. Spatone is available from Boots  & Holland & Barrett priced at £10.55 for 28 sachets (4 weeks supply).

For more info visit www.spatone.com. It is important to follow a varied and balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a healthy balanced diet

[ii] McKenna D, Spence D, Haggan SE, McCrum E, Dornan JC, Lappin TR. (2003) (2003). CLINICAL AND LABORATORY HAEMATOLOGY


[iii] Nelsons Nutritional Study – The significant impact of Spatone on Iron (2009)


[iv] Webster-Gandy J, Madden A, Holdsworth M Ed’s (2006) Oxford Handbook of Nutrition and Dietetics. Oxford University Press, Oxford.