When colder weather and decreased daylight hours start to creep up, woolly blankets are pulled down from their summer hiding spots and the desire to indulge in hot chocolate grows by the day. The last thing many people feel like doing is going for a brisk – or freezing cold – run. In fact, the furthest thought from our minds is doing exercise at all! While staying huddled up on the couch for movie marathons does sound like the preferable option, our overall health and motivation can be impacted.
Make no mistake; the prompt to exercise throughout winter is hard. But if you’re hoping to fulfil your New Year’s resolution and maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the year, we’re here to help. Let’s look at some of the more common excuses for neglecting exercise, and what you can do about them.
Excuse 1: “It’s Too Cold to Get out of Bed!”
It’s true: the lower temperatures and reduced light have a direct impact on our body clock during winter, and when there is the choice between a warm bed and an icy, spacious bedroom, most would pick the first option. However there are a few things you can do to leave the comfort of a cosy bed.
- Invest in a lamp which recreates early sunlight. Rising with the sun can be a great way to greet the day, but as winter progresses, the sun ascends much later in the morning forcing us to get up in the dark. Luckily you can recreate early sunlight in your own room with a wake-up lamp. Brands like Lumie have created a dawn simulator which wakes a person gradually by increasing natural light. Clocks like this provide a signal for your body to decrease the production of sleep hormones and slowly level out the ones that help you get you moving.
- Be accountable by teaming up with a friend. Not just any friend, choose a friend who is self-motivated. Knowing someone is waiting for you to get out of the house and go for a run can increase the likelihood of throwing back the covers.
- Create some space between you and your alarm. Winter + snooze button = best friends, so eliminate the lazy hand/roll over ritual by placing the alarm in an unreachable place.
Excuse 2: “It’s Too Dark Outside!”
Dark winter mornings and evenings aren’t entirely welcoming for those who normally exercise al fresco. And if you don’t have a gym membership, plans for outdoor fitness are easily self-sabotaged.
Solution: In this instance, it’s all about preparation and changing your mindset. Be sure to organise the appropriate clothes for the type of work out and if the motivation isn’t there, sit for five minutes and have a self pep talk – convince yourself that you’re pumped for this workout, even if you’re 100% lying. If outside isn’t an option, there are many fitness apps, like the 7 Minute Workout on iPhone and Android, which utilises equipment-free indoor cardio workouts.
Excuse 3: “I’ll start in Spring!”
When staying inactive for long periods of time, finding the motivation to restart again in a new season is made that much harder. Winter is great time to set new goals and revamp your workout program, so use these months wisely to try activities not associated with the warmer months. For example, a heated yoga class can burn up to 600 calories per session and is fun way to warm up cold bones. Alternatively, you could use these months to have a holiday at the snow, and learn how to snowboard or ski – two energy burning activities.
Excuse 4: “I’m Sick!”
Cold weather and crowds are a recipe for the common cold, so chances are dealing with a bout of the sniffles is part of many people’s winter routine. Feeling sick can be a legitimate excuse for not working out, but when the worst is over, exercising can be beneficial to recovering. It’s not recommended to complete a high intensity routine; instead this is the perfect opportunity to work in some gentle fitness, i.e. yoga or walking.
Excuse 5: “I’m Too Tired!”
Sluggish and sleep deprived is how many describe themselves during Winter, and as the mid-year slump approaches, staying in bed for an extra hour of sleep is always the easier option. The solution to this dilemma is quite simple, and that’s to push through the tired state and exercise. The hard part of starting the pattern of exercise, but generally speaking, when one has a regular fitness regime, they feel energised overall.