Tips To Help You Stay Active In Winter

May 28, 2024

Winter can be a particularly challenging time to maintain your exercise routine – for legitimate reasons! In this article we’re going to acknowledge the most common challenges women in our community face in Winter. And offer a bunch of practical solutions to help you stay active throughout Winter.

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Legitimate Challenges, Not Excuses

We don’t jump on the ‘no excuses’ bandwagons round here. We prefer a more compassionate and personalised approach – one that actually considers the legitimate challenges YOU face. In our experience the top 3 challenges women in our community face in Winter are:

  1. Seasonal motivation drop: Cold weather, late sunrises, and early sunsets can absolutely have a negative impact our motivation and ability to ‘fit in’ regular workouts!
  2. Surrounded by sickness: Sickness can absolutely disrupt your workout routine! Caring for sick children places extra demands on parents and is bloody exhausting (I can’t say I’ve met anyone who feels motivated and energised after gastro has whipped through the house). Helping family members recover from illness, or recovering from illness yourself, can absolutely have a negative impacts your energy and motivation. We also see lots of mums (with young kids especially) being put off venturing out into the community when sickness is so prevalent.
  3. Sleep disturbances and snooze buttons: For some people, winter can actually wreak havoc on sleep quality and and quantity. Reduced daylight exposure on melatonin levels may have a part to play in this and disrupted sleep caused by the ongoing barrage of sickness can also play a role. On top of this, the colder, darker mornings most certainly make it hard to leave the warmth of your bed to attend early morning exercise. 

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Practical Solutions

We need practical solutions to help combat these legitimate challenges. We don’t need bootcamp Bazza shouting at us to ‘just do it‘ and we certainly don’t need fitness challenges that promote ‘Summer bodies are made in Winter’ (Like seriously – do better!). Heres a bunch of practical solutions we hope you find useful:

(1) Fair Play

I purposefully mention this first cause I know the mental and emotional load most often falls solely on mothers… and it absolutely shouldn’t. At this time of year, as sickness ramps up, fairly dividing caregiving tasks with your partner/household/support team AND communicating openly about how you’re feeling, whats on your mind and what you need help with is crucial. Parenting is a team sport. If you’re carrying the bulk of the mental and emotional load, plus doing the bulk of the caregiving and household tasks, then maintaining YOUR fitness routine with any kind of consistency would be freaken difficult, if not impossible. Need help with playing fair in your household? I highly recommend you check out FAIR PLAY by Eve Rodsky, and The Mental Load Project.

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(2) Sleep Matters

Cold temperatures and long nights can actually have a negative effect on your sleep schedule. Here are a few tips that may help your winter sleep:

  • Get light in the morning: Because of the change in sunlight hours, we don’t get the nice big highs and lows of melatonin secretion which can impact our sleep. To counteract those seasonal changes, getting bright light shortly after waking up may help you feel alert and help you fall asleep early in the evening. If that’s not possible, sit by a window sometime during the first few hours of daylight. You can also help keep melatonin secretion on schedule by avoiding bright light at night.
  • Create a sleep sanctuary: You don’t want to associate your bedroom with anything wakefulness-promoting. Create a cosy sleep invoking sanctuary. Save the movie marathons for the couch and do your work on a laptop in a home office or at a table.
  • Pay attention to the over-the-counter medicines you take: Some decongestants and cough syrups have stimulants that keep you awake. So, make sure you’re choosing a nighttime formula (and always take it as the label directs) before going to sleep.
  • Sunrise Alarm ClockThese clocks simulate a natural sunrise, gradually increasing light to help you wake up gently. This makes getting out of bed less jarring and sets a positive tone for your day, making it easier to commit to a morning workout.

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(3) Money Is A Motivator

Paying for a block of classes or a gym membership increases accountability. The financial commitment can help motivate you to attend.

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(4) Connection is Key

Lets be honest, we generally aren’t motivated by a pair of dumbbells, we are much more motivated by connection and community. Training with a friend or joining a small group fitness community can offer both social support and encouragement.

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(5) Layer Up

Dressing in layers helps keeps you warm before, during and after your workout. On the coldest of Perth days I’m talking training top + long sleeve tee + jumper + jacket + head scarf + scarf. Love me some layers. Check out our MERCH SHOP for some layering goodness. I personally also love checking out op shops for affordable jackets – you can literally grab a second hand ski jacket for under $30! Bargain.

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(6) Preparation Wins

Prepare your workout clothes the night before. Having your gear ready eliminates not being able to find appropriate (and warm) clothing in the early morning hours, or in the limited time you have to prepare right before your intended workout time.

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(7) Indoor Activities

Indoor workouts are a great alternative when the weather is harsh. Consider joining a group fitness community, or following online workout videos.

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(8) Say Yes To Adventure

Book in an active winter escape or sign up for a local event, such as a fun run, walk, triathlon, or cycling event. Having something to look forward to or a short-term goal can help keep you focused and motivated to maintain or increase your fitness levels during winter.

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(9) Quick At-Home Workouts

Quick at home workouts are an excellent option for staying active at home, especially when you or your kids are sick. Having a backup plan ensures you don’t miss out on exercise even when you can’t leave the house.

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(10) Drink Water

Cold weather might be causing you to reach for less water which can lead to an energy drop (and associated motivation drop) caused by mild dehydration. Be mindful to maintain your water intake. Herbal teas might help if you’re looking for warm water options.

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(11) Visualise It

Instead of thinking about how hard it seems to get to the workout, flip your thinking and visualise how great you’ll feel after the workout is done. Think about how toasty warm you’ll feel after, or how content you’ll feel for saying yes to you, or the post-workout buzz you get from moving your muscles and catching up with the girls.

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(12) Motivation Ain’t Magic

Motivation absolutely can take a hit in Winter. Not because we’re ‘broken’ or ‘failing’ at this fitness thing… but because nobody, literally nobody, is motivated 100% of the time. So don’t be talking smack to yourself when you feel ‘unmotivated’ because that definitely ain’t helping. When it comes to ‘boosting’ motivation, or learning to ride the motivation waves’, heres a few things that science says can help:

  • Set clear health BEHAVIOUR focused goals/intentions (ie. eating a variety of fruits and veggies, regular moderate intensity exercise, limiting our alcohol intake etc)
  • Have deep reasons or a solid why
  • Break goals down into realistic steps (usually with a support person or coach)
  • Enjoy your journey and don’t compare your journey to others
  • Have a healthy internal monologue
  • Take an intuitive approach
  • Prioritise systems over willpower (ie. set your clothes out the night before, optimise your morning alarm, create a bedtime and/or morning routine that works well for you and your goals).

These are all things we assist our members with in our YES-2-YOU program and individual CONSULTS.

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(13) Good Hygiene

During the winter months sickness can be hard to avoid. We can only do our best to stay as well as possible by practicing good hygiene and cold/flu prevention. Nothing ground breaking here, just a little reminder to do things like: get vaccinated, avoid others who are sick as much as possible, don’t share utensils or cups, practice good hand washing habits, carry hand sanitizer with you (or keep some in your car), cough into your elbow (and encourage others to do the same), mask up if you’ve got cold/flu/covid symptoms (and encourage others to do the same), bring your own exercise mat to classes, sanitize your hands after classes… etc etc etc.

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(14) Shift Your Schedule

Can you adjust your work hours to create time for exercise? If early morning workouts ain’t your friend in winter, could you swap to evening workouts? Could starting earlier or finishing later free up time for a midday workout and allow you to exercise during the warmer and brighter parts of the day?

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(15) Adjust Workout Intensity

If returning to exercise after illness, ease back into your routine!! Don’t be coming back in all guns blazing and attempt to pick up exactly where you left off. It’s seriously not a good move. Choose a supportive exercise community that promotes varied intensity levels and emphasizes health over intensity (Hello – thats us!). This approach allows you to listen to your body and adjust your workouts based on your current energy levels and recovery needs.

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Real Not Perfect

Winter presents significant challenges to staying active so lets not downplay or ignore them. Let’s ditch the ‘no excuses’ mindset and take a more compassionate approach that considers our own individual challenges. Remember, the goal is to be real, not perfect. Ain’t nobody out here maintaining their fitness routine perfectly all year round! At SAY YES FITNESS, we’re here to support you – rain, hail or shine. You don’t have to do all of it alone – you were never meant to. We are #strongertogether.

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READY TO SAY YES TO YOURSELF AND YOUR HEALTH? OUR YES-2-YOU OFFER IS A GREAT PLACE TO START (or re-start)!

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