Staying motivated during the short fall and winter days!
Fall is here. The leaves have changed to their beautiful hues of red, yellow and orange and it’s time to pull out your sweaters, hats, and mitts. Many of us love the autumn weather in Canada, and cozying up inside seems more and more inviting. The change of season shouldn’t create less enthusiasm to stay active outdoors. With less daylight and cooler temperatures, our motivation to maintain regular physical activity is put to the test. Beautiful colours and crisp fall air are only two of the reasons this season is to be celebrated outdoors.
Here are some tips to help you stay committed and succeed your fitness goals through the fall and winter:
1. Reassess your Motivation and Fitness Goals.
It’s a good idea to assess your motivation for physical activity. When faced with obstacles (shorter days and colder temperatures), it’s important to identify roadblocks or challenges you may face in achieving your fitness goals. Are you prepared to run in the dark? Will you invest in clothing and equipment that will make it possible to exercise in colder temperatures? Are you able to fight the urge of going directly home after work versus getting outside even though it’s dark? The answers to these types of questions will help you determine whether you need to modify your workout schedule and location to ensure success during the colder months.
2. Participate in Physical Activity you Enjoy
The main reason people stop participating in any activity is a lack of enjoyment. If you don’t look forward to your early morning yoga class or post-work run, shorter days and the comfort of a warm home make it much more likely you will skip these activities more often, and possibly quit altogether. This winter, stay motivated by trying activities you love or have always wanted to try. Participating in activities you love will make it easier to stay committed and achieve your fitness goals. If you’re a runner, try that dance class you’ve always thought about. Take the time to dance, or swim, or ski, or joining a curling team!
3. Positive Self-Talk
Think of exercise as a can-do activity and not a must-do activity. Look at getting active as a gift, an opportunity to take care of your body and challenge yourself in building a better and stronger you. Be grateful for your health and your ability to move and sweat.
4. Use the Buddy System.
Sometimes we need more than just ourselves for motivation. A friend, family member, or co-worker may very well be feeling the same way. There is power in numbers! Having someone to exercise with will hold you accountable to your commitment and help you stay motivated through the colder months. It is far easier to let yourself down than it is to let down a workout buddy.
Vary your workouts this fall or winter and try a new sport to make the most of the season. Take advantage of the abundance of snow and try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Get creative so you can be challenged which keeps motivation high. Not only will these changes keep you interested, but they also keep your body challenged and improve overall muscle tone.
6. Exercise Indoors
If you don’t feel like heading out into the darkness to stay active, try some resistance training at home or hit the gym or local community centre for a class. Introduce simple, scalable and easy to do activities to your days, such as push-ups, crunches, and lunges. These exercises are easy to do since they rely on your own body weight and do not require the use of equipment. You may also find a variety of workout videos on YouTube or popular fitness sites if you need to stay motivated.
7. Schedule Your Workouts
Sometimes, even the perception of shorter days can leave us feeling anxious and stressed about missing out on the limited amount of daylight. If you constantly feel like you are too pressed for time for physical activity, try scheduling your workouts into your day as though it were a meeting you can’t miss. Treat these standing appointments with the importance you would give to your regular chiropractic adjustment!
8. Weekly Chores
Being indoors makes it easier for us to fall complacent to sedentary activities such as watching TV or surfing the net. A great way to stay regularly active and motivated at home is to commit to a schedule of daily chores broken down into 15-30 minute segments. Instead of investing hours during the weekend, consider breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable routines that could also provide you the opportunity for daily exercise. These include chores around the house like vacuuming, doing laundry, or mopping and chores outside the house like raking, shoveling, clearing the garden, etc. Committing to your inside chores on a consistent basis will keep you physically active even when the weather discourages us to venture outside. Furthermore, when the sky clears up, you’ll have a reason to get outside and get busy!
9. Treat Yourself!
Winter can be long and dark but we are also fortunate enough to live in a place that makes winter so enjoyable. Reward yourself periodically after what can feel like repetitive workouts. Think about something enticing to push you to meet your physical fitness goals. Maybe it’s a well-deserved massage or a trip to the spa. Maybe it’s something small like a hot chocolate after skating on the canal. Keep the visual in mind to keep you motivated while you lace up your shoes (or your skates).
Keeping motivated to stay active this winter can become a challenge as the days can be cold, dark and the decrease of exposure to sunlight drains our energy. Yet, daily activity is an important way to re-energize the mind while preventing MSK conditions and staying healthy. Make the most of this winter by mixing up your workout routine and find ways to keep fit while having fun!