Staying motivated to exercise in winter
Has the cold weather become your get-out-of-exercise excuse? Kathleen Alleaume gives you six ways to nix this seasonal slump.
1. Focus on the rewards
We all know how easy it is to hit snooze and hide under the duvet on a chilly dark morning. That’s why you need to remind yourself of the power of exercise.
Perhaps you’d like to manage stress in a healthier way, or to feel full of energy instead of falling asleep at your desk. To stay focused, write these health rewards on a piece of paper, and put it where you’ll see it every day.
Working out also has a welcome effect on your mind. In a UK study published in the Journal of Health Psychology, people who exercised felt better about their bodies, even when they experienced no physical changes, including weight-loss.
2. Find the right time
Everyone’s daily agenda is different, so find an exercise slot that works for you. If your to-do list always gets the better of you, an early morning session may be your best bet as you won’t have to waste time having exhausting debates with yourself about whether or not you’ll exercise later! To make things even easier, lay out your gym gear the night before. All you’ll have to do is roll out of bed and into your kit!
3. Challenge yourself
Sign up for a charity walk or fun run — raising funds for a cause you care about is great motivation. You’ll enjoy the support of fellow team members and often benefit from free training programmes. Best of all, making a commitment will seriously step up your efforts to achieve a higher level of fitness.
Jump online to search for events that match your interests and ability. Once you have a set date to work towards, you’ll be working out with an inspirational goal in mind.
4. Change your tune
Music can help you stay motivated during a workout, and moving in time to the right kind of tunes may not only keep you going, but also improve your performance.
Research from the School of Sport and Education at London’s Brunel University reveals that exercising to uptempo music can distract you from typical symptoms of fatigue such as breathlessness and a rapid heartbeat, and help you view them in a more positive way. This boosts your enjoyment and your endurance — even when you’re really pushing yourself. When you know a workout is going to be fun and feel easy, you’ll lace up those trainers a lot faster!
5. Don’t get ‘SAD’
Bad weather and a lack of sunlight can lower the brain’s levels of serotonin, the so-called happy hormone. This imbalance can trigger seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a condition characterised by mild depression, a lack of motivation and low energy levels.
In contrast, regular exercise encourages the body to release endorphins, feel-good chemicals that can lift your mood. This helps counteract the stress that often accompanies the cold-weather blues. So keep moving!
6. Prioritise exercise
Don’t think — just do! Exercise shouldn’t feel like a chore or something you have to tick off your to-do list. Start making it a non-negotiable activity that’s simply part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth or taking out the rubbish. The more successful you are at sticking to regular workouts, the more you’ll want to keep them up so you can bask in that rewarding glow!
Bright idea! Gloomy rainy weather reduces your visibility. When you’re exercising outdoors, wear neon or reflective clothing to stay safe.