January 8, 2020
Tips for Beating the Winter Blues
With shortened days and colder temperatures, the winter season makes it challenging to stay motivated and on track with healthy habits. It’s easy to get comfortable curled up on your couch at night. You might tell yourself, “It’s ok, I’ll get to the gym tomorrow.” But before you know it, you haven’t worked out in a week.
There are many reasons that we northerners get stuck in a rut during the colder months. Perhaps your workouts are best performed outside in warmer (and more comfortable) weather. You might have a long (and cold) drive to the gym. Or maybe you’re experiencing fatigue, sadness, and decreased interest in both social activities and exercising.
If you experience these types of symptoms between December and March, you may be suffering from a real issue, sometimes referred to as the ‘Winter Blues.᾿ According to ACE Fitness, one in five Americans struggle with this every year.
Keep reading to learn how to stay mentally healthy and physically fit through the coldest months of the year.
Baby it’s Cold Outside — But Go Outside
Even though it may be below zero with a hefty layer of snow on the ground, research shows that daily sunlight exposure helps improve mood and overall health. As little as twenty minutes of sunlight exposure a day releases serotonin, according to a Harvard research study. Serotonin is the hormone responsible for boosting your mood and making you feel calm and focused. Also, the lack of sun exposure during the winter causes many to struggle with Vitamin D deficiency.
If you become extra motivated and decide to move your exercise routine outside, we have a few suggestions that will help you stay safe and comfortable in the cold. First, make sure you wear layers. As sweat evaporates, it can make you quite chilly. So, make sure you bundle up and wear layers. Next, start your workout by heading into the wind. By the time you head back home, you’ll have the wind at your back, which will lower your risk of losing body heat. Wearing the proper gear is essential too—we recommend you wear reflective clothing and footwear with hardy treads to help prevent falls on slippery surfaces.
Don’t Let Your Waistband Get Too Tight
How many of you are tempted by the yummy holiday dishes that pop up on the dinner table (and on the break room table at work)? It’s easy to cave into cravings, but it’s essential to focus on maintaining a balanced diet, even around the holidays. Don’t let that ‘cheat meal᾿or ‘cheat day’ turn into a habit.
You can prevent yourself from getting too far off track by sticking to a healthy diet. If you’re less active in the winter, reduce your calorie intake until you can get back into your spring routine. It’s vital to source the bulk of your calories from healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. It’s also essential that you drink six to eight glasses of water each day.
Staying active is also a great way to stay trim over the holiday season. If you’re not currently very active, you can get started with a 30-minute walk. If you’re a master of cardio, check out local HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) or Zumba classes to keep your heart rate up.
Also, don’t be afraid to try weight lifting. Start with smaller weights and low repetitions of each exercise. As you begin to steadily build up strength, you can increase the weight amount and repetitions of the exercises.
If you’re not a fan of going out, create a workout space in your home! You don’t need fancy cardio equipment or weight lifting machines to get started. Some free weights, tension bands, and workout videos can get you far. YouTube can also be an excellent resource for high-quality workout videos.
The Buddy System
Speaking from personal experience, I am more likely to work out in the winter when I have someone holding me accountable. Make a fitness pact with a close friend or sign-up for training sessions ahead of time. In either case, committing makes it harder to stay home.
If it’s not possible to coordinate your workout schedules with a friend, then agree to keep in touch via phone calls, text messages, or social media. Another way to be held accountable is by signing up for an exercise class. Hop online or take a peek at a local bulletin board to find a class that requires physical attendance! If you pay for a class upfront, you’re less likely to skip it. Call gyms if you don’t want to commit to a class upfront; many gyms will give you a free or discounted trial run.
So, even though it sounds more pleasant to stay inside when you get home, don’t let the seasonal changes affect your routine. Like Nike says, Just Do It!