Winter is fast approaching, and already, the nights are getting darker. With fewer daylight hours, colder days, many of us experience a drop in our overall mood, and it’s bound to be challenging to stick with our exercise routines.
In response to these seasonal challenges, our team has put together their top tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and feeling, well, generally happier this winter.
Check out our 8 top tips for maintaining your health and happiness this winter.
But first, why do we struggle with motivation during the winter?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is (most commonly) triggered by winter.
This more severe condition currently affects around 3% of the UK population. Although you may not suffer from SAD, many of us still feel the impact of winter on our moods.
After all, the nights get darker, and we get far less sunlight (especially if you’re an office worker), we’re far more prone to seasonal colds and flu.
For most of us, the idea of leaving our cosy living rooms for a workout during the winter months is far from tempting. That’s only natural and rest assured, we’ve all been there!
Rather than criticising yourself for struggling to find the motivation, try adjusting your mindset so that you can approach your fitness targets from a new perspective.
1. Eat well.
Although junk food is a momentary source of comfort, healthy, nutritious meals are the best way to continue meeting your targets, improve your healing capacity, and keep you in a positive headspace.
For instance, did you know that your body’s nutritional status has a profound impact on its ability to stimulate the synthesis of new tissues? So, by ensuring that our diet is rich in key nutrients, we can help our body to recover faster.
Furthermore, in a fascinating piece of research by the BBC, Sonal Shah, a nutrition specialist, explained how a healthy diet helps us to feel happier:
“A balanced diet feeds the brain, providing it with the nutrients it needs to support a positive mood, and improve signalling pathways between brain cells for optimal brain function.
“The nutrients required to support a healthy mind and brain are so vast, and it’s important to consume a varied diet and supplement nutrients that are low or missing in the diet.”
A great way to do this is by eating seasonally. Seasonal ingredients include fruits like apples, grapes and pears, veggies like beetroot, broccoli, butternut squash, parsnips, and sweet potatoes from October to February.
We also advise our clients to take Vitamin D supplements during the winter, as this helps to compensate for the deficit in our bodies, caused by the lack of sunlight.
2. Write a plan each week with achievable goals.
Without a doubt, planning is the best way to bring accountability to our week and boost motivation, thereby ensuring that we achieve what we set out to do.
On each day, your fitness plan should lay out what exercises you will do and the areas of the body you plan to target.
It should also include targets like the number of reps, weights to work towards, or the distance you hope to cover (depending on the type of exercise).
Also, our experts recommend a SMART goal format, as the best way to write fitness targets.
This means specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed. A great example would be, ‘I want to be able to run 10km in less than 85 minutes, before February next year.’
3. Sign up to a gym
Yes, we may be biased here, but if you lack motivation, try taking your fitness routine to a gym this winter.
– Encouraging you to set a time for exercise and stick with it
– Giving you the chance to try out new equipment, keeping your routine dynamic and fresh
– Providing a safe space for exercise when it’s dark outside
– Use a variety of equipment, which targets all areas of the body
– It makes your fitness sessions a social activity
– Exercising as a group produces more endorphins than working out alone
– The goal of making the most out of your membership costs is a great extra motivational boost!
If you need any more reasons to join the gym, we’ve listed our top 10 on our blog.
4. Work with a personal trainer.
We’ve mentioned the word ‘accountability’ a few times, and there’s a great reason why. If you feel accountable to someone, then you won’t want to let them down.
By sharing your targets with a personal trainer and bringing them into your fitness journey, they will fix your bespoke, realistic goals and motivate you to keep working towards them. It’s also great to have a friendly face by your side and keep your spirits up during the winter.
These are just some of the reasons why the support of a personal trainer is invaluable. We’ve got even more key benefits to working with a personal trainer on our blog.
5. Try running
If you’re not a fan of the gym or you just enjoy the outdoors, then try running.
The winter provides perfect conditions for running because it keeps your body temperature consistent, meaning that you sweat less.
Plus, at lower temperatures, our heart rate is more stable. So, as long as you warm up thoroughly before you start, winter is a great time to focus on improving your running. And it’s great fun in the rain!
If you have any questions about safe running practices, have a read of our guide to avoiding common running injuries.
6. Warm-up carefully
When it’s colder, your muscles can be more at risk of strains or injury. This is because, when they’re cold, our muscles possess less elasticity, making them more prone to soreness or damage.
So, if you are going to throw yourself into more exercise, it’s crucial that you remember to warm-up thoroughly before starting and cool down for 10 minutes after you finish.
This will increase your heart rate, mobility and body temperature, and so reduce the chance of injury.
7. Drink water
In the Summer, we instinctively drink water because we’re hot and sweaty. But, in winter, it’s a lot easier to forget to stop for a drink.
Although our body is a lot less prone to dehydration during the winter, it’s still vital that you take in plenty of fluids.
Make a mental note to bring a bottle of water with you to drink throughout the day and whenever you exercise and make a glass of water a part of your pre and post-workout routine.
8. Incorporate physical activity into everyday tasks
There are lots of ways that you can do this, for example:
– Take a walk during your lunch break.
– It is advised that office workers should stand up from their desks for around 15 minutes per hour. Try a few of our simple desk stretches to keep the body moving.
– Ask if you can introduce more exercise initiatives at work. Lunch-time activities are a great example.
– Make your commute (or at least part of it) a walk.
– Leave your phone upstairs or in another room, so you have to walk to check it.
– Move about when you’re cooking, ironing, or even cleaning your teeth
– Play more active games with the kids in the evenings
Simple but effective habits can boost your fitness levels and improve your mood while you’re at it!
For support in your training, more information about our central London gym or specialist help post-injury, get in contact.
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