By Brad Krause
Cooler weather might have chilled your intentions to exercise, especially if you’d rather be outdoors for your workout. But when the temperature dips during the season’s shorter days, you need more of the body confidence and brain boost that exercise can give you. It makes all the difference in helping you get through the season. Lifting the Dream offers the following tips and advice to help you keep moving during the chilliest time of year.
The Mental and Physical Benefits of Exercise
Indeed, fewer hours of sunlight can reduce the levels of serotonin, a mood-boosting neurotransmitter naturally produced by your brain, according to a Mayo Clinic article on seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. The change in seasons could also throw off your body’s balance of melatonin, disrupting your sleep patterns and adversely affecting your mood even if you haven’t been formally diagnosed with SAD.
Exercise can help counteract those changes by increasing your brain’s production of serotonin, endorphins, and other chemicals that help improve mood, regulate sleep cycles, and reduce stress, among other benefits. Not only does exercise reduce stress, but it also boosts your positive, motivating emotions, too. Part of this is biology — the body is regulating itself during exercise, but it also has to do with seeing and feeling the results of your efforts.
For example, regular exercise can help us control our weight, which can be more of a challenge when colder weather makes high-calorie comfort foods even more tempting. And working out has physical benefits that extend far beyond your reflection in the mirror. It can also help combat a variety of health concerns, including stroke, type 2 diabetes, and many types of cancer, to name a few.
Advice for Staying Motivated
So, now that you’ve reviewed some of the reasons not to let yourself go into hibernation during the cooler months, here are some practical tips to help keep you fit and focused when cooler weather drives your workout routine indoors.
Try a trainer. Hiring help from a professional will encourage you to master new training techniques and provide you the inspiration and motivation to get moving on even the coldest days. And there’s no need to even brave the temps to get to a gym. Many trainers will meet you in your own home or schedule interactive video sessions you can arrange from anywhere you have an internet connection and a computer, laptop, or tablet equipped with a camera and microphone.
Get out of your comfort zone. Consider enrolling in an indoor exercise class you’ve never tried before. For example, Piloboxing combines Pilates and boxing moves to stretch and strengthen muscles while getting your heart going. In fact, participants can burn as many as 900 calories in an hour-long class, according to Reader’s Digest.
Be an exercise introvert. You can also create a home workout space to get your sweat sessions in. There are many effective exercise routines that require minimal space and equipment. For example, you can begin a regular yoga and Pilates practice in your basement, garage, or a spare bedroom with just a mat. Be sure to keep your in-home exercise studio clean and organized between workouts. By ensuring this space is sanitized and decluttered, you’ll pave the way for positive energy every time you enter the space, which will motivate you to break a sweat during cold days.
Reward your efforts. If you’ve stuck to your workout resolutions for a while, consider indulging in some new workout wear or a fresh pair of athletic shoes. Studies suggest being dressed for the part can actually encourage people to exercise and boost their confidence while they’re at it. Having the proper gear, such as cross training shoes that fit properly and offer your feet the right level of support, can also increase performance and prevent injury.
As Zenbusiness points out, it can take upwards of 30 days — or more — to incorporate new habits into your day. If you stick with it and push through the periods when you just want to hang it up, you’ll discover the motivation to keep doing it every day.
Don’t let chilly weather cool down your efforts to exercise. Instead, use the season as a reason to freshen up your exercise routine.
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