Find reasons to exercise during winter
You may want to stay in bed but it is important to find different ways to exercise during winter that suit you. Winter is a time of year that can go two ways for a person; they’ll amp up their workouts because it’s cold, or they’ll choose to stay in bed because, you guessed it, it’s too cold.
It is scientifically proven that, over time, colder temperatures can affect a person’s mood and, in turn, their mental health. The colder weather is known to tempt people to stay inside more, eat more, drink more and decrease the overall motivation and drive to exercise – which can take quite the toll.
We all know that exercise is good for you for many different reasons, and as someone who has had quite the rollercoaster ride of a mental health journey since my teenage years, I have only ever worked out for one reason and one reason only; it makes me really happy. It makes me happy while I’m doing it and it always gives me more energy afterwards and I like to think that I’m quite bouncy and chipper when I’ve finished a workout too. I think that’s why I thrived as a group fitness instructor, because I loved seeing others exercise, helping them achieve their best and seeing the smiles on their faces when they’ve collapsed in a heap on the floor in a pool of their own sweat knowing they’ve just done something pretty epic for themselves, even though they probably loathed you during the session.
Exercise releases this hormone called ‘serotonin’ which is generally known as the ‘happy hormone’ because it’s a chemical that is formed within the brain and intestines and controls our moods, sleep, appetite and memory. When we reduce our regular amount of exercise or just stop doing it in general, that chemical production decreases and that’s when we start to feel a bit ‘meh’ and can lead to signs and symptoms of depression and during seasonal time periods, is known as SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. Yes, it’s a real thing and although not as common in Australia as other countries, it’s still very real for the people who are experiencing it.
As a personal trainer who specialises in mental health, I become extra motivational as the weather cools down because my clients need it more. I don’t take excuses and I like to keep my clients accountable for their health by reminding them why they began training with me in the first place, which 99% of the time is for their mental health.
Some great ways to stay motivated during the winter season are:
Remind yourself of how exercising makes you FEEL!
I’ve had clients that really struggled to stay motivated during any part of the year and a great tool for them that I’ve used is purchasing a little notebook or journal to write down how they’re feeling before a workout and then noting how they felt afterwards. 9 times out of 10, their emotions are far less heightened, there’s a smile on their face and their mood has increased in happiness. The next time they went to make a crappy excuse as to why they couldn’t exercise, I reminded them to check their journal and see how moving their body helped them previously.
Set a goal!
I’ve always found if I’ve set myself a goal and tell someone about it, I’m more likely to stick to it. Even if it’s to increase my weights on a certain lift, run a certain distance (but if you know me you’ll know I don’t run any further than 200m), or whatever it may be. If you have a physical goal you’d like to achieve, make that your goal – the world is your oyster and that’s why it’s YOUR goal.
Find a workout buddy.
If you can’t keep yourself accountable, find someone who will! Sometimes you or someone else will need that extra kick up the bum to get going and it’s a great way to get some social time in and exercise at the same time. Social interaction is also another epic way to combat the blues.
And my biggest tip,
REMEMBER YOUR WHY!
Everyone exercises for a reason and that reason is your own. If you remind yourself of why you started, there should be no reason to stop. Remembering your why is a massive drive force behind everything that you do in your life, so your health is just as important if not more than anything else you do.
Your mind is a powerful tool which does need you to look after it for you to live your best life. The more consistent that you are with how you look after your health, the more you’ll feel the benefits. It will also help you to recognise when you’re not feeling so great and these feelings and symptoms should never be ignored. If you feel like you’ve been feeling ‘blue’ for longer than you’re used to, seeing a medical professional is incredibly important to help you get back to feeling yourself again.
About the Author
Lauren Patterson is a personal trainer, a balanced lifestyle coach, public speaker and writer. After her own mental health battles she has used her struggles to help others gain strength through her work on her blog, social media and in her role as personal trainer. She works to raise awareness for mental health including talking to teenagers about suicide awareness, self love, mindfulness and combatting bullying.