WINTER warriors say the key to staying fit in Ballarat's coldest months is to train smarter, to keep moving and to enjoy a burst of fresh air every now and then.
Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute is calling on Australians to abandon hibernation and serious couch time in a bid to sit less and save their heart.
The Institute's physical activity laboratory head David Dunstan said exercise was most important in colder months to maintain a heart health because cold weather make the heart work harder to keep the body warm.
Professor Dunstan said the cold could elevate blood pressure and affect circulation, which could lead to serious illness or death. He encouraged people to keep it simple.
Evolution running coach Louelle Blanchard and Eureka Cycling Club vice-president Dean Wells echo this message for those wanting to get on the move outdoors in Ballarat.
Ms Blanchard said the biggest help for runners and walkers was to get out there with a group. She suggested joining a free evening running group in Ballarat or stepping out with parkrun Ballarat on Saturdays.
"Running with others is a good motivator. We had a group run a week ago when it was bucketing down rain but everyone turned up to run because there is that sense of accountability," Ms Blanchard said.
"Parkrun has that social side of it with a celebration coffee afterwards.
"You're running to keep fit but it becomes a way of life - imagine when you're mixing with other runners the positive influence this can have on your life."
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Ms Blanchard said it was important for runners and walkers to rug up properly for conditions to help keep their muscles warm and to stay safe in groups if running in the dark after work.
There is a strong movement in Ballarat for cyclists to take up cyclocross and gravel rides on trails to avoid winter dangers of road riding. Mr Wells said new cycling technology, like smart trainer apps, could also offer an incredible indoor workout. Pre-arranged, coffee-drinking social rides were also popular with cyclists, like runners, in winter.
Eureka Cycling continues its veterans road program through winter but with shorter races, about one-third less the distance of peak-season racing.
"For us, it's really important to keep people racing...by October there's a packed program and exciting events," Mr Wells said.
"If you're not riding in winter, by the time you get your fitness up the season's almost over."
TOP TIPS TO KEEP IT SIMPLE MOVING IN WINTER
- Body squats
- Calf raises
- Walking around the block for three minutes
- Wear layers to peel off and take spare dry clothes for afterwards
- Set a goal, like a running event, for motivation to train
- Exercise in groups
- Wear safety/reflective clothing
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