Early on a cold morning, the last thing most people want to do is go out for a run.

But this is exactly what health and fitness experts are suggesting to help people stave off the effects of the approaching winter.

One of the options is to enlist the help of a personal fitness trainer such as Hove based Nick Gray.

Mr Gray is able to assess people's strengths and develop the right training programme for them to get fit.

He says it is the best way to create a sense of wellbeing and positiveness as well as being good for people's health.

Brighton-based fitness expert Louise Hurley, is also keen to see people getting out and about.

She said: "As the cold weather approaches, we generally see levels of fitness activity decline as people go slowly into human hibernation'.

Unfortunately, this is not only bad for the bulge but for the health as well.

"One-in-three people visit their GP with a cough, cold or chest infection over the winter period.

Exercise has been proven to help boost the immune system and fight off coughs and colds.

"Regular, moderate exercise helps boost the immune system but it is important not to work beyond the fitness level.

"Ideally, people should be exercising three times a week with rest days in between."

Apart from exercise, it is also important for people to get the right amount of sleep.

Sufficient sleep helps the body fight bugs and viruses and most adults need between six and nine hours a night.

If a person has difficulty in sleeping, regular exercise such as swimming or jogging will encourage a good night's sleep.

Stress can also affect a person's ability to fight infection.

Giving yourself plenty of time to relax is one of the best ways to beat this.

For some people, a simple soak in the bath at home can make all the difference but if it doesn't work, then relaxation classes such as Pilates or Yoga may ease tensions.

Mrs Hurley said: "Although it can be hard to plan time to just simply relax, fitting de-stressing time into your schedule now could mean less off-days this winter."

The onset of autumn can trigger off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder associated with falling light levels as winter draws near.

Problems associated with SAD include depression, ranging from despair to guilt and anxiety and difficulty in carrying out the simplest of tasks.

Other symptoms include avoiding company, irritability and lethargy.

Symptoms tend to start from around September each year, lasting until April but are at their worst in the darkest months.

The problem stems from the lack of bright light in winter.

Researchers have proved bright light makes a difference to the brain chemistry, although the exact means by which sufferers are affected is not yet known.

What is established is it is not a psychosomatic or imaginary illness.

As well as using artificial lights to ease the condition, the naturally-formed substance serotonin, found in the body tissue, is also believed to ease depression.

Dieticians say increasing your intake of foods containing the amino acid tryptophan, such as chicken, turkey, bananas and cottage cheese, may have a beneficial effect.

It has been said to reduce anxiety and depression, helps in the treatment of migraine headaches, boosts the immune system, helps to reduce the risk of artery and heart spasms and works with Lysine in reducing cholesterol levels.

The remedy, St Johns Wort, has also been found to be very effective in relieving the mild to moderate depression associated with SAD.

Herbalist Maria Edwards said: "There are many natural remedies and solutions to help people get through the autumn and winter months.

"These include tonics and pick-me-ups as well as some protection against colds and flu. It is always worth considering the alternative option."