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61% Brits stop exercising completely during the winter months – new research reveals

With the clocks turning back and winter approaching, research by Sports Direct has revealed that 61% of Brits admit to stopping exercising completely as the days draw in.

In light of this, Sports Direct has launched Beat The Quit – working with run crews across the UK to shine a light on the best well lit running routes and provide motivation to those who find themselves swapping exercise for excuses.

The new research has taken a deep dive into the nation’s winter activity habits, revealing that, from as soon as the clocks go back to March 26th (21 weeks in total) the average Brit will spend 42% more time sedentary: six hours a day, that’s 42 hours a week and 882 hours in total.

Nearly half (48%) also admit that during the colder months they find it harder to stick to their normal exercise routine, with Brits swapping running shoes for screens as they spend 22% more time on their devices during winter months. In fact, over the next 21 weeks of winter, we will spend 441 hours (three hours a day) scrolling through videos and memes online. 

Overall, 79% said they think exercise is more important for their mental health than looking good. Despite being aware of the health benefits, 44% still find themselves making excuses not to workout during winter.

Two in five (40%) find working out or running as a group in the winter helps them Beat The Quit as 60% use “it’s too cold” as an excuse not to exercise. The icy weather is a barrier for Brits as over half (51%) say that they’re far less likely to run or exercise outside during the frosty season.

What’s more, seven in ten women (71%) and over half of men (56%) admit the darker evenings mean they struggle to find well lit running routes so they avoid exercising outside as winter arrives. Almost half of women (44%) confess that they just simply don’t feel safe running outside during the winter, whatever the time of day.

To combat the issues and help Brits stay motivated in the colder months, Beat The Quit will see the sports retailer partner with regional run crews in London and Birmingham to encourage people to overcome the elements as well as the barriers to exercise throughout the colder months. 

Alongside motivational tips, the crews will also shine a light on the best-lit running routes in their respective cities – providing practical solutions for those who feel unsafe when the nights draw in. 

The Outrunners, one of the running crews working with Sports Direct on Beat The Quit, commented: “Movement has a profound positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing. We absolutely share Sports Direct’s vision in harnessing the power of exercise to help people keep on working out as the seasons change and we head into winter. It’s no secret that it can be less enticing to head out for a run when it is cold and dark outside, which is why we’re here to motivate people and make it easier to keep on going. We’re here to Beat The Quit together!”

The Outrunners Top Tips to Beat the Quit this winter:

  1. Find your tribe: Running in the winter months alone can be demotivating and lonely. It’s no real surprise to see the survey reflect this, with people saying running with a friend helps them boost motivation. Finding the right running crew for you is essential, not only for motivational purposes, but safety, too!  
  2. Light up the streets: When the nights draw in, we’d recommend that you wear running gear that will make sure you’re seen. This is not just for traffic, but pedestrians as well. So, chuck on bright, illuminous colours and a head torch if needed – especially if you’re out running in rural areas that are poorly lit.
  3. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail: Muscles need to be warmed up properly when the cold starts to snap, so a good warm up to transition into a run is key. Strength and conditioning is really important as well! We’d recommend trying out exercises like yoga, which helps with flexibility and core strength.
  4. Mix it up: Try to mix up your runs by running to a landmark which you like. It helps to keep things fresh and will motivate you to run that extra distance. From a safety perspective, make sure you stay clear of routes that could be slippery if you don’t have adequate grip on your shoes. Naturally, if it’s dark, try and run somewhere that is well lit.
  5. New season, new playlist: The research shows that Brits will use any old excuse to swap exercise for a boxset in winter, so you need to get creative in finding that extra bit of motivation. This can be little things like putting together a new mix of your favourite music artists to help accompany your run. It’s simple but effective!
  6. Go for a run during the day: We know that running at night in the winter can be daunting and demotivating, so switch it up and get out during the day. This could be on your lunch break at work or on your weekends. We lack vitamin D during the winter months so getting those miles in during daylight is important, not only for your physical health but mental, too.
  7. Dress in layers: The most important thing is to not end a run wet, cold and miserable. So cover those legs and hands by investing in the best winter running gear to stop extremities getting too cold.

Brits Top Ten Excuses to avoid exercising in the winter:

  1. I’ll go tomorrow (33%)
  2. I’ve been feeling run down (28%)
  3. The roads/paths are too wet (28%)
  4. I don’t want to catch a cold (26%)
  5. There’s not enough safe, well lit running routes (22%)
  6. My feet will get wet (21%)
  7. I’d rather binge a series (20%)
  8. I deserve a lie in at the weekend (20%)
  9. I’ll get muddy (18%)
  10. I prefer to train indoors due to safety (18%)

To shop the best reflective winter running gear, visit Sports Direct online here

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