How to motivate yourself to exercise when it’s cold and dark outside
As we get further into autumn, the darker nights and drearier days can start to take a toll on our moods.
One in three people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that commonly presents itself during the autumn and winter, making the next few months particularly tough for millions of people in the UK.
Research shows that regular exercise is one of the ways that we can boost our mood during these tougher months, but if you’re struggling to keep up with an exercise routine as it gets colder you’re not alone.
Many of us find it much more difficult to find the motivation to get outside to exercise now than during the summer months, but it can actually be one of the best times to exercise outside, with there being less heat stress on the body.
Here’s how you can stay motivated to exercise during the colder months.
How can I get motivated to exercise in the cold?
While many of us lack the motivation to go outside for some exercise on one of the many cold, dark days that we see in autumn and winter, there are some simple things we can do to help.
Luke Hughes, Level 4 Personal Trainer and Founder at Origym , has revealed some easy tips on staying motivated to exercise, even during these miserable winter months.
Here’s the six things that you can do to get motivated.
- Get your outfit ready
One of the key elements to ensure that you feel good while exercising outdoors during the colder months is having the right clothing.
Luke explains: “When exercising, you’re more likely to feel the chill if you’re not wearing the right fitness gear and when the temperature drops, it’s time to introduce more layers of clothing.
“Before leaving the house to work out, make sure you have the right fitness gear on, alongside a trusty, thermal jacket as muscles are more prone to tightening up when it’s cold out.
“If it’s raining, have a hat or beanie at hand and wear trainers with adequate grip in case the paths are slippy!”
He added that not only can a new outfit keep you warm while exercising, it can also motivate you to get out and see whether your new kit improves your performance.
- Stay fuelled
It can be difficult to feel motivated to exercise on an empty stomach, so alongside getting the right outfight, a pre-workout snack is also an important part of the motivation process.
Luke recommends: “To ensure that you have the energy and motivation to work out, you should eat something substantial beforehand, preferably a good source of carbohydrates, as this can cause a rapid increase in blood glucose levels, making it the perfect fuel to increase motivation.
“Some ideas for a quick pre-exercise snack include a banana, cereal bar, or a bagel with peanut butter.”
- Remind yourself of the benefits
On a miserable and dreary day, exercising outside can seem like one of the last things you want to do, but there are a number of benefits to exercising in bad weather that might motivate you to get out there.
Luke explains: “Most areas are much quieter in the morning, meaning that you’re less likely to collide with pedestrians on the street or be interrupted by noisy cars.
“You can enjoy the sounds of nature and the world around you, rather than the sound of traffic and the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
“Starting off your day with a workout means you’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing you have done something productive early on, which sets you up to be productive for the rest of the day.”
- Involve other people
Buddying up with someone is also another good way of staying motivated, as having a support network around you can help to ensure you exercise on a regular basis.
On darker days, it can also be a good idea for your safety to bring someone with you if you are heading outside to exercise.
Luke says: “By checking in with someone, you can stay accountable, meaning you are less likely to stray off track and skip your workout sessions.
“Sometimes, finding motivation for exercising can be difficult, so bringing a friend can help boost momentum. It’s also a good way to stay safe when it’s cold and dark out.”
- Stay inside
If going out into the cold weather is still too much to bear, then another of Luke’s tips is to simply stay inside.
Although outdoor exercising has its benefits, working out inside can be great too, and there’s lots of resources to help you exercise from the comfort of your home.
Luke said: “Home workout videos soared during the pandemic and showed us how to stay active while indoors with limited fitness equipment.
“So, if you want to stay in the comfort of your own home on a cold, dark day, you could watch workout videos online or invest in fitness equipment or some basic workout gear. That way, you’re less likely to make excuses!”
- Remember why you started exercising
When motivating yourself to exercise when it’s cold and dark out, it’s also important to not lose sight of why you started exercising.
If you’re finding it hard to stay motivated then you can also try taking it back to basics and remembering why you started your fitness journey.
Luke added: “Remind yourself of your goals and why you’re on a fitness journey, identify what really inspires you, and then keep constant reminders of this.
“Keep a log or track your progress on a fitness app – you could even take weekly pics, as visual reminders can be a great way to maintain exercise motivation and ensure that you do not lose sight of your goals.”