Winter & Exercise.
Winter – dark, cold and generally uninviting mornings greet those select few who prefer exercising in the morning. And those who prefer to exercise after work in the evening are confronted with similar conditions. So what do you do? Stay inside in the warm and tell yourself you’ll exercise later, or even tomorrow (aka make an excuse) or do you follow through on your commitment to your health and fitness? I think it’s fair to say that at some point, we have all found a reason to miss a workout during winter using a variety of excuses. But the many benefits of exercising outweigh the excuses we make.
Having an established exercise routine before winter commencing is one thing that can make training during winter a little easier. So if you are someone who falls into this category you have a slight advantage. However there is no time like the present to commence an exercise regime, and if you’re about to begin now, your motivation to commence could be the catalyst needed to help you through the dark, cold mornings or evenings. Regardless of whether you’ve been training for a while, have just recently begun, or are about to begin, understanding your state of mind can aid in developing a positive mindset which can be key in “surviving” winter workouts.
At times, exercising in winter can be a greater mental battle, than a physical one. I applaud those individuals who can go and exercise by themselves, for themselves, especially during winter. If you don’t fall into that category, it’s ok. Find yourself an accountability partner as this can be another way to reduce the number of excuses you succumb to. Whether you do it alone, or with a partner, committing to your health and fitness goals will allow you to enjoy the benefits that are associated with exercise. Including, but not limited to, increased mental clarity, feelings of euphoria through the release of endorphins and diminished depressive states (Balchin, Linde, Blackhurst, & Rauch L, 2016) (Dinas, Koutedakis, & Flouris, 2011) (Leuenberger, 2006) (Morgan & Goldston, 2013) (O'Connor, Herring, & Caravalho, 2010).
Having the attitude of exercise as a part of your healthy lifestyle, your commitment to it won’t waiver during winter. You will still be balanced in your approach and not fall into the trap of extremes – being committed and focused for a period, then doing nothing for another period, realizing that you’ve done nothing and feel the need to ‘punish’ yourself by going so far that it’s almost impossible to maintain. One thing that may keep you on track and not cause your approach to waiver is the continued use of the SMART goals principle. Winter may present a few more challenges, so having increased preparedness is crucial. Whether it’s laying out your workout clothes the night before, having your clothes with you so you can get changed before you walk through your front door or scheduling your workout in your calendar.
Whether you’re training indoors or outdoors, exercising in winter presents its own set of challenges, however, the rewards of staying committed to your goals during this time of year pays off in the long term. Whatever has been driving you towards your health and fitness goals for the first part of the year, let that continue to spur you on.
Remember to keep moving towards your goals, and don’t let this time of year become an obstacle that halts your health and fitness progress.
A healthy mentality and dedication to your health and fitness goals is a year-round commitment. Make the best of this time!
Balchin, R., Linde, J., Blackhurst, D., & Rauch L, S. G. (2016). Sweating away depression? The impact of intensive exercise on depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 218-221.
Dinas, P. C., Koutedakis, Y., & Flouris, A. D. (2011). Effects of exercise and physical activity on depression. Irish Journal of Medical Science, 319-325.
Leuenberger, A. (2006). Endorphins, Exercise, and Addictions: A Review of Exercise. Impulse: The Premier Journal for Undergraduate Publications in the Neurosciences.
Morgan, W., & Goldston, S. (2013). Exercise and mental health. Taylor Francis.
O'Connor, P. J., Herring, M. P., & Caravalho, A. (2010). Mental Health Benefits of Strength Training in Adults. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1559827610368771