As the sunny days become fleeting and the temperature drops, so too does our motivation to exercise. Winter lends itself nicely to a spot of Netflix and chill whilst rugged up on the couch, all the while indulging in some warming calorie-laden foods. It’s completely normal to feel this way – less sunshine hours can lead to a drop in our Vitamin D levels, and this sunshine vitamin effects our mood. But we’ve all heard that summer bodies (and healthy minds) are made in winter, so how can you beat the winter blues and keep moving throughout the colder months? We’ve got 10 tips to keep you motivated.
Tip 1 – Make it an investment.
Unless you’re renowned for making ‘donations’ to your local gym, signing up for a membership or subscription is a great way to keep yourself accountable and motivated. These days you can even remove the excuse of having to leave the comfort and warmth of your own home with plenty of online workout options available. The Pilates Class run by Australian professional dancer and Pilates instructor, Jacqui Kingswell is a favourite of ours, and is sure to leave you energised and full to the brim with post-workout, mood-boosting serotonin.
Tip 2 – Stroll power!
Incorporating a walk into your day is a fantastic way to take in some fresh air, reset your mood and maintain overall health. Research has shown that just 30 minutes of walking a day has huge benefits – from lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes through to maintaining strong bones and reducing the risk of some cancers. Best of all, walking is free, and it really is a case of some is better than none. So, even if you can’t manage 30 minutes, start with 10 and build up as the days go on.
Tip 3 – Light your inner fire with hot yoga.
The perfect tonic to a cold winter’s day, hot yoga classes operate in a room with a toasty temperature set between 32-40 degrees Celsius. Sweating is one of the main objectives of hot yoga, giving you a circulation boosting glow throughout the cooler months. An added benefit of joining a group exercise class is that you’ll establish a new crew of workout buddies – aiding in that motivation to turn up. Find a hot yoga studio here.
Tip 4 – Peace of mind.
While physical health is important, it’s nothing without good mental health to accompany it. Our mental health is a key factor when it comes to motivation, so looking after it has a huge flow-on effect into other parts of our lives. With Vitamin D levels at an all time low during the winter months, incorporating a mindfulness practice into your health regime is a fantastic mood booster. If you’re not sure where to start, head on over to YouTube for free guided meditations like these ones from Daily Calm and Goodful. There are also plenty of apps on offer to help keep you accountable and on track – our favourites are headspace and Calm.
Tip 5 – Embrace nourishing foods.
It’s easy to overindulge in warm puddings and heavy takeaways in the winter months, but sticking to home cooked meals like nourishing soups and warming slow-cooker favourites is the best option. Maintaining a good fluid intake (of at least 2 litres of water a day) can also be tricky as the temperature drops – make it a priority by having a bottle of water on hand or by switching your icy cold glass of water for a cup of herbal tea. Remember, what we eat (and drink) effects our mood, and this leads to changes in our physical and mental health. For more on the benefits of a well-balanced diet on overall health, check out Head to Health.
Tip 6 – Motivation through retail therapy.
Hit the shops for some at-home equipment or new workout gear to keep you moving through the colder months. Shimmying into some new leggings or a fresh tank is sometimes all it takes for that extra fitness mojo. If you’re on the hunt for some at-home equipment, the products at Booty Band & Co are sure to inspire. Choose from high quality resistance bands, booty sliders, yoga mats and more. Furthermore, with booty bands in colours to suit your mood or wardrobe, choosing which one you want might just be as hard as your workout!
Tip 7 – Buddy up!
Forming a fitness habit with a friend, family member or loved one by your side not only helps with accountability, but also keeps it fun. Agree on your goals and schedule in your exercise days upfront so that your weekly fitness dates become a priority. Exercising with a buddy has the added benefit of being great for your mental health, as you will have someone to lean on, motivate you, and chat with if you’re going for a walk or heading to a class together.
Tip 8 – Hit the pool.
While swimming is often associated with summer days at the beach, hitting the local indoor heated pool ticks all the boxes for staying warm while you exercise. Swimming in a heated pool is fantastic for circulation, and our circulation can really suffer during the winter months if we don’t stay active. Swimming can also be therapeutic and is a sure way to stay disconnected for a little while, as you submerge in warm water and give your lungs a good work out.
Tip 9 – Find your team.
What could be better than a buddy to keep you motivated and accountable? A whole team of them! From basketball to hockey and even dodgeball, there are plenty of social teams up and running across Australia. It’s a great way to combine socialising and exercising, meet new people and indulge a love of not so serious sports.
Tip 10 – Goals for gains.
While ideally focussing on the less tangible benefits of exercise like feeling good in your mind and body is great, setting goals will help you get there. Bite-sized, achievable goals (and rewards along the way) are crucial for keeping on track. Whether you’re committing to a goal of 3 x 30-minute walks a week or building up to your first novice triathlon, keeping it realistic is key to your success. To get started on goal setting, check out these practical tips from expert trainers.
Above all, be kind to yourself.
A drop in exercise mojo over the cooler months is perfectly normal, so be kind to yourself and appreciate any steps you take to keep your mind and body moving. Scheduling in regular exercise throughout winter will keep you feeling mentally and physically in shape – so find something that works in with your lifestyle and leave the excuses behind!
The above tips are general in nature; please consult with your general practitioner or fitness consultant for a specific wellbeing and fitness plan that suits your individual health and fitness needs and circumstances.