It’s relatively easy to exercise during the warmer months. The days are long, warm and largely dry. Further, the endorphins give us that momentum and inspiration to get out for long walks in the warm evenings. Yet in just a few weeks, it will be getting dark around 5pm and will only get colder and darker until we come out the other side in March next year (at the earliest). It will be cold, wet and dark leaving work and even those who are at home will struggle to find the motivation to step foot outside again once inside.
There is actually a biological reason for this lack of motivation to exercise. Vitamin D is lower in the autumn and winter months, making us feel lower. The cold and dark affects our circadian rhythm and we feel sluggish and tired. When we feel sluggish, we are less motivated to exercise. Our endorphins drop and we feel even less committed to exercise because we feel tired. A vicious circle like this feeds itself. How do we cope with it?
Tip 1: Make the Most of the Good Weather
You probably don’t need reminding that our autumn-winter period is not six months where it is always cold and wet. People who exercise outside, particularly runners, find it easier in the winter than the summer. It’s easier to warm up than cool down and the cold air of winter will cool your sweat and improve your performance.
Tip 2: Exercise Inside
Exercise in the comfort of your own home instead when it is cold and wet outside. This requires no more or less motivation than going to the gym or out for a run but without having to brace the weather. Try downloading an app – some are free but some of the paid apps are useful. A good app will have a database of exercises that act as virtual Personal Trainer.
Tip 3: Sign Up For A Class
Firstly, working in a group is a great way to get some exercise and encouragement. A community hall or leisure centre will help you make new friends so you don’t have to exercise alone. Secondly, the commitment of paying for a number of classes will encourage you to go if only that your money is not wasted.
Tip 4: Exercise During the Day Where Possible
This is not always going to be possible. After all, in December it does not get light until 8am and is dark by 4:30pm. If you work a regular pattern, you should make a point to get plenty of exercise at the weekend. A long walk on a Sunday, for example, will expose you to plenty of sunlight and improve your Vitamin D and general sense of well-being.
Tip 5: Try Something New
It’s hard to run, or swim, or go to the gym when you remember the lovely summer sessions of just a few months ago. These exercises are not quite so enjoyable in the cold and wet with these memories in mind. That’s why the winter is the ideal time to try something new, something that perhaps doesn’t require good weather. As we mentioned above, a class is a good idea, but the change is what is important here.
Tip 6: Take Up an Outdoor Team Sport
Autumn and winter are prime seasons for rugby, football and hockey amongst others. All that running around and intense activity is better suited to the colder months than the warmer months. The motivation to do the activity is the cold weather itself. When it is too warm, it’s easier to get too tired too quickly. In the cold weather, the prospect of cold toes and fingers is the perfect motivator to get active.