With the arrival of the colder fall air, I have noticed during my daily runs that there are far fewer people outside exercising. My hope is that they have chosen to move their routines to the indoors or have opted to exercise later in the day when the temperature is warmer. It is not uncommon for a "chill" to be put on your exercise routine as the temperature drops and the hours of daylight become fewer. Let's face it, getting motivated to go for a walk outside on a cold, dark morning is not easy. But, this doesn't mean you have to stop exercising all together during the fall and winter months.
A common pitfall is to view exercise as an "all-or-none" proposition. That is, we opt not to do any exercise at all if, let's say, the act of riding the stationary bike for 45 minutes seems insurmountable. I have had to combat this mindset on occasion. A few months ago, I was finding it difficult to get "psyched" to go on a 12 mile run. My husband spoke words of encouragement to me that still resonate in my head on those days in which I need that little extra push to exercise; he said, "You can always turn around and come back."
You see, before those words were spoken to me, I had the "all-or-none" mindset. I thought to myself that if my body didn't feel strong enough to run 12 miles, then I shouldn't exercise at all. But, a 12 mile run was a self-chosen goal. No one was forcing me to go that distance. I could have opted for a shorter run instead of no run at all. I had the freedom to alter my routine, the freedom to "turn around and come back." The important point was not how far I would be able to run on that particular day, but that I ran.
Try these tips when the cold air starts to send your motivation to exercise into hibernation:
- Alter your routine - try exercising later in the day when it is light out and the temperature is warmer.
- Switch-up your exercise program - try a new mode of exercise or change the intensity or duration of your usual regimen.
- Modify your exercise goal - allow yourself a "light" day (e.g., go for a walk instead of a run).
- Plan ahead - what type of exercise will you do when the snow starts to fall? Consider the type of equipment that you will need to help you maintain your routine throughout the cold-weather months and make sure you have it ready when the time comes (e.g., if you plan to start cross-country skiing when there is snow, get your skis now).
- Enlist the support of others - surround yourself with individuals who understand the value of regular exercise and who will give you the encouragement you need to stay the course
The beginning of cold weather tends to be an end to regular exercise for many. Changes may be needed to your "warm weather" routine in order for you to remain physically active throughout the fall and winter months. Personal goals may need to be altered. Don't fall prey to the "all-or-none" mindset. Several short duration exercises dispersed throughout the day can be just as beneficial. When your motivation to exercise is challenged, remember that it is the act of participating
in physical activity that is important, not "how far" or "how fast" the exercise is performed.
Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.
Labels: cold weather exercise, motivation