The summer has gone, the weather is colder and the days are shorter. Fantastic excuses to sit back, relax and skip the gym. Working out during the colder months can, however, be really beneficial to our overall wellbeing. This post explores three reasons why working out during autumn and winter is important and shares four easy tips which can help to find motivation.
Three reasons to work out this autumn and winter
1) Improved overall health and wellbeing
Being active can help to improve not only our physical but also our mental health. Engaging in 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity comes with a lot of physical health benefits such as: Prevention of major chronic diseases, heart problems, joint pains, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and many more. You can read more about guidelines for physical activity on the NHS website. The physical benefits of exercise and activity can also support positive mental health. In addition to all these health benefits, exercise can also offer a way to distract our brain from daily worries.
2) Increased creativity
This one might seem odd at first but thinking of all the different weather conditions you can find yourself in during autumn and winter, you can use all your creativity. No matter whether it is raining, snowing, a little bit too cold or dark, there are endless ways of adapting your workout. Breaking down barriers which may potentially stop us from engaging in an activity we normally enjoy can be really rewarding. You can use our SMART Goal September Worksheet to plan your goals, for example cycling when it’s cold.
3) Beat the winter blues
It is not quite winter yet, but getting into a healthy routine now can help to stay motivated when the cold winter months approach. The physical and emotional benefits of exercising can help us to beat the winter blues and feel happier. Exercising outdoors in particular can be beneficial as the combination of fresh air and sunshine can help to prevent SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and have an overall positive impact on our wellbeing.
Four tips to stay motivated
1) Adapting to your environment
We have already explored how exercising in autumn and winter can spark your creativity. And while creativity is definitely a reason to stay active during autumn and winter, it is also a great tip on how to stay active. Once it gets colder and darker, you might consider staying in, in front of the TV instead of going out for a walk or on your bike. Try and find new ways to enjoy what you have already been doing. Put on an additional layer of clothing, choose a different path with more street lights for your walks or join up with friends to motivate one another.
2) Try something new
If you have tried different options but are still struggling to keep going with your chosen activity, try something different. You can try and find some indoor alternative, for example a spinning class instead of going out on your bike. Or you can use this time of the year as motivation to try something completely different, something you might have want to try in the past but never found the courage to do. If you would like to join an indoor club but are worried to go along yourself, try and find someone to go with you or make contact with the organiser of the group to get a better idea before going along for the first time.
3) Find the positives
While the change in weather can make it difficult to engage in outdoor exercise, it is possible to find the positives in this. The leaves are changing to a beautiful variety of colours and once fallen off the trees make a slight crunching noise when walking. The sun sets earlier, so it is easier to spot beautiful sunsets. The air, although potentially cold, is fresh and clear; especially after it has rained. Try and find the positives of exercising during autumn and winter. You do not need many positives but make sure you write down the ones you do find. Then, on days you don’t feel motivated, grab your list and remind yourself of the nicer things to expect if you engage in exercise.
4) Be mindful
We have previously explored mindfulness walking which can have a positive impact on our physical and mental health. Being mindful can also help us to focus on things we enjoy and appreciate our surroundings. If you are going for a walk on a cold autumn day, try and focus on your senses. What can you feel, smell, hear, taste, and see? What do you enjoy and what could be better? Exercising mindfulness can also help you identify how you can adapt to the different weather etc. to make your exercise still enjoyable.