During her appointment last week, a client of mine expressed her annoyance and disappointment with herself. She is a fantastic runner, and has just resumed her training following a two-month break after surgery. But she’s frustrated because her body isn’t performing how she is expecting it to.
Aside from the fact that her body is still recovering from surgery, there is another factor here. And it’s the truth (whether you want to hear it or not)…winter is here.
Many of us find it hard to exercise in the winter. But why?
There are many reasons why the winter weather can affect how we exercise, such as slippy roads and dark evenings, but here are my two biggest considerations.
Firstly, our body is literally having to work harder in the winter. Colder temperatures mean more energy is needed to warm up the muscles and joints properly, and the body needs to work harder to stay warm during a workout. With a lot more energy being used to stay warm, you may find yourself with less energy for your exercises.
Secondly, finding the motivation to exercise when it’s cold outside is hard. On a wet and windy day it takes a lot of effort to leave your warm, cosy house. Blaming the weather is an easy way of saying “I’ll do it tomorrow”.
So what can we do? I seems a shame for me to say “Well, just stop any exercise until the spring is here”…
Wrap up warm and go for a walk. It may not feel as physically exerting as a gym workout, but walking is a brilliant way of getting the muscles moving, the blood flowing and breathing the fresh air. It's also a great way of ensuring you get some vitamin D, which is particularly important in the winter when the daylight hours are limited. Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the release of the hormone Serotonin. Literally a mood-boosting hormone. Hooray!
Do it from home. “Workout” doesn’t mean going to the gym. YouTube is an incredible resource many of us have access to. There are plenty of Pilates classes, yoga routines, HIIT workouts and many more available if you look for them. Buy yourself a £10 exercise mat from Amazon and enjoy exercising from the comfort of your own home!
Buddy up. Find a friend who you can pair up with. If someone is depending on you, your motivation will increase and you’ll find it easier to tackle those cold winter days.
Routine. We are creatures of habit. Build an activity into your weekly routine - if it’s already in your diary then you’ll be more likely to do it as you’ll be prepared.
The 5 minute commit. My favourite tip. When you really don’t want to exercise, just commit to doing 5-minutes. After that, you have full no-judgement permission to stop and go home. If, however, after 5-minutes you feel like you want to continue, then crack on. More often than not you’ll find your mojo once you’ve started – it’s getting out that’s the hardest. However, if you really still want to stop after 5-minutes, then today’s not the day. Go home, rest up, eat well and try again tomorrow.
But most importantly of all, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s nearly Christmas after all! 🎅