As much as we love sweater weather, those cozy knits come at the price of extra chilly mornings and shorter, darker days.
And it definitely doesn't help when I'm trying to leave the house for a 6 am workout, ask Siri what the temperature is, and she replies with "Brrr. It's cold outside." Nope.
That is enough out of you, Siri.
So, how do you bump up that workout motivation?
“Health” Is More Than Just a Jog or Piece of Kale
While we’re all about nutrition here, we know that it’s just one piece of the health puzzle. Exercising sometimes takes even more motivation than eating well, especially in these chilly months.
It’s easy to find something that serves as a seemingly legitimate excuse for skipping out on your sweat session (like your bed being a warm burrito and the outside temps solidifying your coconut oil.)
BUT movement is key for physical and mental wellness.
Aside from the obvious benefits of getting that post-workout glow, maintaining a workout routine can provide even more perks.
- Endorphins to melt away seasonal depression
- Enhanced blood circulation to keep you warm
- A breath of fresh air from your home’s stale heated air
If those selling points weren’t enough, here are a few ways to stay inspired and ready to move in these frosty winter months.
1. Adapt, Or Die
Kidding, you won’t die - we’re just being dramatic.
But adaption is key.
To the temperature, the light (or absence of it), and the conditions. Winter can provide less-than-desirable obstacles to exercise, but it’s important to keep going outside.
Studies show those who exercised outside did so longer than those who were inside at a gym where conditions are perfectly controlled.
Sure, you may be chilly when you start out and need to be wary of icy roads, but it’s more stimulating to workout outside.
- Your body has to work a little bit harder, but that means more calories burned
- You’ll be visually stimulated with the changing scenery vs. the treadmill dashboard
- There’s more opportunity to connect with nature, which provides benefits in itself
Being outdoors can also lead to a more zen state than the hectic 5 pm gym rush - in other words, you can drop into a flow state and if your mind wanders, maybe your body will wander too. (Read: work out longer)
2. Change Your Routine
If you can’t adapt, change.
No matter what the benefits are, sometimes mother nature is such a buzzkill that you literally can’t go outside. At least the snowy blizzard is pretty to look at?
The good news is that limitations can often mean more creativity!
Can you try a new type of workout or class to get excited about?
Is high intensity is your thing? Could be time to pepper in a yoga or pilates session to stretch out stressed muscles.
Never take a day off from working out? You can instead focus on recovery-based methods or schedule a massage instead of a workout.
Some of our favorite indoor workout or body TLC options:
- At-home yoga: check out YouTube or apps like Down Dog for inspo
- SoulCycle: they provide shoes, so you don’t even have to carry an extra pair of sneakers when you’re decked out in winter gear
- Join an intramural team: get your competitive fix, while socializing and meeting like-minded people
- CorePower: excessively sweating will bring your mind back to warmer, sunnier days
- Indoor pools: if you’re not a swimmer, an aquatic workout is sure to shock those muscles out of hibernation
3. Get into the Natural Rhythm
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is the time to tonify your yin.
It ties into how grounded you are, your connection to your sense of self, and internalization. Usually associated with the feminine side of things, versus the masculine yang.
And tonification is a therapeutic treatment that nourishes and replenishes the parts of the human body when they are deficient or weak. Basically to put your body back into balance.
Yin is also characterized as being dark and cold, like winter. Coincidence? I think not.
Going with workouts that are lower intensity help to develop your yin. Doing these slower workouts or approaching your higher intensity workouts in a more mindful way will allow you to tap into that natural seasonal shift while still reaping the benefits of your workout.
Your body is always in flux, so allow the seasons to dictate the flow.
4. Go Towards the Light
If you’re usually a morning person but the darkness has you hitting the snooze button, switch up when you’re working out.
Can you fit in a mid-day sweat session, say on your lunch hour or during the weekends?
Exposure to the sun means greater exposure to vitamin D; the hormone-like micronutrient that regulates aspects of bone health (calcium metabolism) and immunity.
Being in the sunlight during the daytime hours allows for melatonin production (the hormone that helps you sleep) sooner in the day. Pair that with physical exertion and you’ll find yourself in for a deep, restorative slumber.
More exposure to the sun also boosts levels of serotonin; the happy hormone. Once darkness hits, serotonin converts to melatonin, adding to your naturally regulated melatonin levels. That means a happier day and a better sleep at night.
Added Bonus: UVR sun rays naturally bump up endorphin production. Pair that with your workout-generated endorphins, and you’ve given yourself a double dose of happy.
Basically, the sun is the cure to anything and everything in life (it's like the new coconut oil.) No Seasonal Affective Disorder around here!
5. Accountability is Your Friend
Or just put your friend in charge of your accountability.
Whether it’s with a fitness tracker or a real-life workout buddy, you need to set goals and share them.
Winter can be a great time to work on big projects, goals or tasks (since we’re less distracted when we’re not frolicking in the warm summer sun.) Having structure and accountability means goals get accomplished and results happen.
So, get out there people!
Of course, it’s natural to want to hibernate in the dark days of these winter months, but keeping that workout motivation and remaining active will make for a healthy, well body all year round.