How the cold weather affects our workout habits and motivation – Stylist Magazine

Posted: October 30, 2020 at 5:53 am


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Exercise has been something of a godsend this year. With coronavirus restrictions having limited the places we can go and the people we can see, many turned to daily walks, home workouts and, more recently, to their recently reopened gymsto fill their time and channel their energy.

But now the clocks have gone back, meaning shorter days and darker evenings, and there is a definite chill in the air. For a lot of people, this seasonal transition very often marks a change in motivation, with warm cosy living rooms being far preferable to a rainy run or a venture out to the gym.

Many of us find that in the colder, wetter months, our motivation to do many things is negatively impacted, including exercise, explains fitness trainer Dr Folusha Oluwajana. But there are a variety of benefits to staying on top of your workout routine when the weather takes a turn, and a number of things you can do to keep yourself going as winter approaches.

Its pretty well-documented that cold weather and darker days can affect your mood. In fact, according to research conducted by The Weather Channel and YouGov, almost a third of people in the UK suffer from a degree of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which can cause low mood, poor sleep and problems concentrating, among other things. If youre feeling down, says Dr Oluwajana, getting up to work out may feel like a mental challenge.

In addition to the mental blocks you may experience as the seasons change, the colder weather also has an effect on our bodies. According to Dr Sarah Davies from Panacea Health, our muscles and tendons often tighten up in the cold, meaning that we are likely to feel joint pains more acutely as a result, which can be disincentivising to being physically active.

Its true that exercise outside is usually not as fun if its cold and raining, says Dr Oluwajana. But regardless, it does have some unique benefits, including helping you to fight off colds, as regular exercise contributes to a healthy immune system. Given that viruses like the common cold are more prevalent in winter, keeping up your exercise routine will help you increase your chances of combating and recovering from them when they hit during the colder months.

In addition to aiding your physical health, exercise during the winter also benefits your mental health. Working out gives you a rush of endorphins, which are neurochemicals that your body produces to minimise pain and maximise enjoyment. Dr Oluwajana explains that endorphins are also known as the happy hormone, and that they are great for giving you a natural lift when youre feeling low. Getting up and exercising in the winter could, therefore, be just the thing you need to stave off your seasonal low mood.

Its one thing to know that exercising in the colder weather is a good thing, and another to actually want to do it. Thankfully, though, there are things you can do to keep yourself motivated. Dr Oluwajana recommends adjusting your workout schedule to ensure you stick to it. She suggests, for example, rescheduling your run to lunchtime if you dont want to run during the dark mornings, or switching to home workouts if getting to the gym is unappealing.

Keeping warm should also be a top priority which Dr Oluwajana says comes with the added bonus that getting yourself some new, warm workout gear could help motivate you to exercise outside during winter. There are specific exercises you can do, too, that are particularly good at keeping your body temperature up. As Dr Davies explains, exercising the large muscle groups in the legs with squats, lunges and deadlifts will keep you warm during the winter months.

Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts.

Images: Getty

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How the cold weather affects our workout habits and motivation - Stylist Magazine

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October 30th, 2020 at 5:53 am

Posted in Motivation