Winter is officially here. It’s that time of year when comfort food seems so much more tempting, and the urge to stay inside under a blanket in the morning and night is almost overwhelming. Even the most dedicated of exercise enthusiasts can struggle with motivation to exercise during the colder months. The sun rises later and sets earlier, making daylight hours confined to a much smaller window than normal. For some, they’ll arrive at work just after it starts to get light, and they’ll leave after the sun has gone down.
The winter season is known for being disruptive to people’s exercise routines. Every year, we see the same wave effect. Activity levels start to decrease as soon as the temperature begins to drop. Staying motivated means focusing more on the benefits of staying active. By removing obstacles and making small changes, exercising in winter doesn’t need to be dreadful.
Tips for Staying Motivated During Winter
No one likes to be the weakest link… commit to working out with friends
Some of us love to exercise alone. That time where we can completely zone out and focus on ourselves. This also means that there is only one person we have to convince to skip a session, ourselves. And in winter, it’s so much easier to say, ‘it’s too cold, let’s stay in bed.’ This is where committing to a regular workout with a friend or a group comes in handy.
In a group environment, there is social pressure. But don’t be alarmed, it’s good pressure! No one wants to be known as that person who bails last minute, slacks off, or lets down the group. Working out with a friend, or in a group, also provides social support. You’ll motivate each other to commit to a regular schedule and remind one another of your goals. Having the company of even just one other person can simply distract you from the chill in the air. All in all, you’re less likely to pull out of activities that involve catching up with friends.
Even in the event of needing to workout from home, you can still experience a somewhat social environment. You can join live classes on Zoom or Instagram, or even set up a FaceTime with friends and workout to a Youtube video together.
No matter how big or small your workout, track your activity
The ups and downs of life can be thrown at us at any point. With life’s hectic schedule, it can be easy to lose track of where you are, and where you want to be in regards to your fitness goals. Tracking your fitness journey is an essential piece to the completion of your fitness puzzle. Some people track every part of their fitness journey, including food and water consumption, type of exercise, sleep schedule, and mental health. With the advancement of technology, there are an endless amount of apps and gadgets that make it extremely easy to track your activities.
By logging your exercise, it holds you accountable and honest. It’ll show whether you’re committing, or not, through either positive or negative patterns. For a lot of people, tracking exercise also encourages more purpose-driven and efficient workouts. Because no one wants to log a bad workout. Overall, keeping a log of your activities provides a clear summary of your progress and measurement towards completing your goals.
Signing up, or committing to a challenge, is another great way to hold yourself accountable to continuous training. As an example, if you’d like to take up running, then a program like couch to 5k might work well for you. It’s a program that takes you through 8 weeks of progressive training to build up your endurance and strength to be able to run 5km.
Whatever you do, just get your gear on
The first step in motivating yourself for a workout is putting on your exercise gear. 9 out of 10 people say that they feel energized to get moving and break a sweat once they’re dressed. Almost as if it’s a ritual, getting dressed puts us in the right mood and helps us overcome that first mental hurdle.
Take your exercise clothes to work and go straight to the gym once your workday is over. That way, you can’t fall into the trap of arriving in the comfort of your own home and having to build up the willpower to leave again. Or, if you do need to stop home before going to the gym, don’t change into casual clothes, instead chuck on your gym gear right away.
If you’re an early morning exercise-goer, some people will even go as far as sleeping in their activewear the night before. That’s what we like to call working smarter not harder. Just make it your goal to get dressed and get to the gym (or workout location). Chances are when you get to this point, you’re not going to back out.
No sunlight before or after work? Not a problem with lunch break workouts
Leaving for work before it’s light and leaving after it’s dark can be frustrating and a big demotivator for a lot of people. Something as simple as a time-of-day change can help get you back into routine and avoid those chilly hours of the day. So, we’re introducing you to lunch break workouts, and the research backs us up.
It’s a familiar underlying knowledge that sitting all day is linked to an increase in unwanted health conditions. Recent research also suggests that midday workouts lead to better job performance, improved stamina, more enthusiasm, reduced stress and increased creativity. Not only that, but you can also enjoy these benefits:
More restful sleep
It’s common knowledge that better quality sleep is linked to regular exercise. Your midday workout also means you don’t need to be waking up at the crack of dawn.
Time in the morning for a better and healthier breakfast
Spend the extra time in the morning from not having to wake up early to fuel your day with a delicious and fulfilling breakfast.
Although lunch workouts are becoming more popular, the gym will be nowhere near as busy as it is during the morning or afternoon rushes.
You’ll experience an actual ‘break’
Let’s not kid ourselves. Many of us eat at our desks whilst continuing to stare at our computer screens. That’s not a break. Time away from your desk and being able to mentally switch off from work will leave you feeling more refreshed.
No afternoon slump
We all dread that mid-afternoon slump that hits around 2 pm. It’s the body’s natural rhythm. Exercising at midday releases feel-good endorphins that keep you from putting down more caffeine at 2 pm.
The cooler mornings and nights bring with it tight, cold muscles and therefore decreased mobility. To be able to train at your best and remain injury-free, your warm-up is going to need to become your best friend.
Cold tightens and it slows. Imagine putting a rubber band in the freezer for a while… that’s your muscles in winter. Because they’re constricted in their mobility and flexibility, when put under strain or stress, they aren’t ready for action. This makes them more prone to injury.
Warming up is exactly what it’s called, warming up the body. By increasing your body temperature, your muscles begin to loosen, allowing them to prepare for physical activity.