Take a walk on the coast side this winter

A guide to keeping fit this winter

Whilst the days may be shorter, the weather cold and wet, it's no excuse for giving up on eating healthily and exercising. Yes, the temptation may be strong to curl up like a hedgehog in hibernation but we will not be doing our mind, or our body any favours.

Walk this way

You don't need to be sporty or particularly outdoorsy to enjoy an outdoor activity. As a proud owner of two left feet, coordination has never been a strong point. So I concentrate on what I do rather well - walking. My feet are my transport, I still do not have my driving license (it's my New Year's resolution for 2013 - honest).

Living in Portrush while at university, my relationship with the great outdoors blossomed and the beach became my best friend. Many a dilemma of what I was wearing out on a Wednesday night was solved with an earnest walk along the shore. In all seriousness though, the ocean was a constant source of solace. So, it is no wonder, that it's my favourite place to walk.

Burn, baby, burn

In fact, walking is one of the best forms of exercise we can do. It lowers your blood pressure, manages your weight and improves your mood. It tones your bum, thighs and calves, a bonus if you are hoping to pour yourself into that sequin ultra short number for the Christmas party. Walking at a speed of 4 mph burns a fat busting 150 calories! So if you can walk to and from work, you won't need to deny yourself that melt in the mouth croissant in the morning!

Beat the blues

Exercising the mind is just as important as exercising the mind though. The winter months can be a depressing time. Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) include sleep problems, lethargy and anxiety. The debilitating illness affects 7% of the UK population every winter between September and April. Being out in the elements in daylight hours is a great way to puts things in perspective and there nothing like a brisk icy wind that makes your cheeks hurt, to make you feel alive.

Dress the part

Don't forget to look after your skin though, always wear an intensive moisturiser to combat the harshness of the winter air. Don't forget your lips; wear Vaseline or Burt's Beeswax. Wrap up warm, layers are best as they will keep the heat in and of course, wear suitable footwear. Choose shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles to cushion your feet. If you are anything like me, with cold extremities, always wear thick gloves and socks.

If you are going to drag yourself away from your hot water bottle and your snuggie, you want it to be a pleasant experience. Give yourself an incentive too - an aromatherapy bath with candles and a glass of red wine when you get home - new research shows red wine, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti and Merlot, contains melatonin, an anti oxidant which has anti-ageing and cancer preventive properties - bonus!

Chasing pavements

If you can't get to the beach, the great thing about walking is that you can do it anywhere! It's cheap, good for you and sure to keep the winter blues at bay! Strut your stuff and feel great in the process!