The shortest day is almost upon us here in New Zealand, which means winter has well and truly settled in. Getting motivated to exercise can be even harder for many. Especially when it’s dark and cold with wet windy days; spring – let alone our long summer beach days– seems so very far away right now. It’s that time of year when comfort food and a nice glass of wine (or three) is oh so tempting, whilst the urge to stay inside instead of going to the gym is almost irresistible. So why bother fighting it? We can always start a 12-week program when September comes around – can we not?
We all know it’s hard to stay motivated during winter. Big woolly jumpers, comfy slippers and cold weather seem to conquer all motivation to eat well and exercise properly. However, there is plenty of good research for staying healthy over winter and improving your lifestyle, general outlook and wellbeing.
Why should you keep exercising? Surely winter is a good time for an extended rest?
Keeping yourself motivated means focusing on the benefits for you (and your family). Even when it’s cold, there are plenty of reasons to get outside rather than hibernate. Exercising outside or just walking to your local gym lets you benefit from fresh air and Vitamin D, which helps to absorb calcium, maintain bone strength, and strengthen the immune system among other things.
Being a consistent exerciser can help to beat those winter blues. After just 10 minutes of exercise, the brain releases ‘feel-good’ chemicals dopamine and serotonin, which can help reduce anxiety and depression. Staying active can also help conditions such as arthritis and asthma – both conditions whose symptoms can often worsen over winter.
And of course, there is always the impact on your body and how it looks. While it may be colder now, summer (and beach attire – think swimwear) will be here sooner than you think. Maintaining a healthy and consistent exercise routine over winter means there won’t be that pressure to get back into shape come spring. We like to think of it as keeping and/or building your summer beach body in winter – it is better to make small gradual improvements every week than crash diet or resort to extreme exercise in a few short weeks to get beach / summer ready.
So how do you keep motivated?
Having a goal or target event is one of the easiest ways to get motivated. This could be a summer holiday, or perhaps a wedding or special event. It could also be that you just want to lose a few kilos to feel better, reduce your body fat, or fit back into those favourite jeans.
Train for an Event
Training for an event is another great motivator, as it gives you something to strive for. You could train for a fun run like Round the Bays or a local 5km or even the Auckland Marathon, or perhaps you have your eyes sent on an endurance event, such as Tough Mudder. It could also be just to be able to run around the park with your kids for their upcoming cross country.
Get a Trainer
We know it can be hard to push yourself and get out the door. Sign up with a personal trainer. You can think of our Simply Fit personal trainers as a personal motivator, helping you push yourself when you lose your resolve. Our Trainers can also help achieve certain results, so if you want to improve your fitness, get stronger, train for a specific event or just lose weight, one of our Simply Fit trainers can get you there.
Enlist a Friend
Friends can be great motivators, and no one likes letting their friend down when you know they are expecting to meet you. Exercising with a friend keeps you accountable, pushing you both to exercise when you may lose motivation apart. You could also join park run on a Sunday, try some new walking trails or train in your favourite gym together (like ours), or just try some new activities where other people are always involved to help keep you motivated, such as dance, Stand up paddleboarding, a martial arts or even rock climbing.
Dress for the Weather
Your summer workout gear may not be appropriate for winter weather. Invest in suitable winter gear to stay warm and dry. Be sure to warm up inside before you head out the door with dynamic movements such as leg and arm swings, also remember to stay hydrated, and change out of your sweaty gear after you exercise.
It can be hard getting out of bed when it’s dark and cold. Give yourself some extra encouragement by setting a thermostat timer to warm your bedroom, and set your alarm to play songs that motivate. Going to bed earlier helps as well, as we all need good sleep to function and train well.
Try Something New
Winter often is the ideal time to change up your workout routine. As you head indoors check out gyms or small group training classes in your area to find one that fits with your goals. Or, you could even head to Snow Planet if your Auckland based to practice your skiing or snowboard. We are lucky enough that generally in NZ it is only a few hours drive to the nearest ski fields if you wanted too.
Technology can be a great motivator and help keep you on track. With myFitnesspal you can log your exercise session and food eaten in their smart app, or if you’re a runner – you could use Strava and find like minded runners to track against while you log your kilometres. Other good motivators are just Checking into the gym such as @Simplyfitgymnz on Facebook or post a picture from your workout using your phone on Instagram to keep you accountable with your friends. Mark your calendar or download the HabitHQ app with workout sessions and treat them as actual appointments. Create a countdown to summer or the event you are working towards. Create a new workout playlist to keep you motivated.
Acknowledge your successes and work towards a big reward for reaching your big target – such as a new outfit or a weekend away – but you can also work towards smaller rewards; little things you can look forward to at the end of each workout. Just don’t make it that cupcake or big muffin or you might undo all your hard work!
Be Flexibile & Don’t Overcomplicate it
Don’t set any rigid rules, as you want to make exercise fun, not a chore. Find a routine that’s simple and easy to start for you. Don’t worry about setting aside one long period of workout time if you cannot; instead try to accumulate exercise throughout the day. Perhaps it is just adding in a few flights of stairs rather than the lift, or parking the car a little further a few days a week, or just walking the longer way to your work or the gym.
Most of all, we just want you to enjoy exercise.
All the best, and contact us if you would like some help with your fitness regime.