It's dark, oh so very dark in the mornings and by the time you finish work for the day, it's dark again. In the mornings, your flannelette sheets are hugging you like a warm blanket and you have little inclination to get out of bed.... Sound familiar? Well what if you change your mindset and look at the positives of exercising during the winter months rather than dwelling on the negatives?
How to maintain motivation in winter and why it's so good for us!
1. Be solutions focused
Instead of avoiding the cold, embrace it! If anyone came to our outdoor barbell class in the rain, you will understand how empowering and invigorating that session was! When we change our mindset and look at the positives rather than the negatives, we can really do anything. That day was a perfect example of using the elements as a reason to postpone exercise when in fact, embracing it was far more beneficial and rewarding.
2. Make the most of every moment
Do you find the morning is too cold, and by evening you're too tired? Look for ways to integrate exercise into your day. At lunchtime, go for a brisk 20-minute walk. If you have a meeting with a colleague planned, consider taking it to the streets for a "walk and talk". Try a lunchtime boxing or yoga class. These breaks will warm you up and are a great way to revitalise your mind and get you ready for a productive afternoon. We have certainly found our lunchtime virtual Pilates to be really popular for this very reason!
3. Buddy up
There’s nothing like the knowledge that someone is waiting for you to motivate you to stick to your plans – even in the bleak mid-winter. Make a pact with a friend to encourage each other and commit to set training times. I find not only am I more likely to exercise if I have arranged to do so with a friend, I will also push myself more during the session (maybe that's the competetive side of me......?)
4. Help control winter weight gain
Winter is an ideal time to lose weight as your metabolism naturally speeds up to help keep you warm. People often gain weight in winter because they become less active, eat more food, and spend less time outdoors. We also know that excess weight can decrease immunity as those carrying extra kilos generally have more inflammmation. Keep moving through winter and you'll be a step ahead when the warm weather arrives.
5. Stay close to home. Choose a place to exercise that is comfortable and close to where you live or work. Lack of time has been identified as the number one barrier that stops people from exercising, so it makes sense to minimise your travel time.
6. Dress appropriately
Dress in layers. Wear plenty of light layers so you can gradually peel them off as you become warm. You should be a little cool starting out. Avoid sweating, as you may become chilled.
7. Help fight 'winter blues'
Bad weather and a lack of sunlight can trigger a mild form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is characterised by a lack of energy, increased eating, longer sleep and weight gain. It often strikes during winter when the number of daylight hours is reduced, however, it can be helped by spending more time outdoors in the fresh air. (source http://www.abc.net.au/health/features/stories/2008/06/24/2280049.htm)
8. Help boost your immunity
There is scientific evidence to suggest that regular exercise is associated with better immune function. Data shows that regular exercise is associated with fewer cases of flu and pneumonia and a generally lower mortality rate. When we exercise, we enhance the movement of important immunity-related cells throughout the body. When we exercise on a regular basis, this enhanced circulation of immune cells can decrease the likelihood of illness as well as helping with systemic inflammation.
Exercising in the cold can also be a form of cryotherapy (cold therapy such as cold showers and ice baths). In small doses, cryotherapy has also been shown to boost immunity.
Well there are now several reasons why you should continue being active in the cooler months. It's interesting that there are several holistic benefits of exercising during winter. If anything, going through isolation earlier this year has forced us to live differently and be very opportunistic. Changing your mindset as well as tackling new challenges can be truly rewarding. As we delve closer to the heart of winter in the Macedon Ranges, what are you going to do to keep active? Why not set yourself a new goal or try something new, you wont regret it!