So, you’ve developed a healthy habit of going for a brisk walk or jog after you get home from work in the evenings. The only problem is, it’s beginning to get dark earlier, and soon the setting sun will edge out your exercise window completely. What to do?
This is a challenge faced by fitness enthusiasts every year. Here are five tips to keep you moving through the fall and winter, so you don’t lose all that wonderful progress you’ve made in the warmer months.
Switch Your Workout Time
“After work” is the preferred workout time for many adults, but as the seasons change the dark nights can preclude many of your regular activities. So instead of boxing yourself into working out at a certain time of day, try branching out a bit.
For instance, did you know that working out first thing in the morning actually helps burn a bit more fat? You have technically been “fasting” overnight, so any readily available glucose in your system has been all but used up. When this happens your body switches to fat burning mode, making early morning workouts especially effective for fat loss.
Also, don’t discount the benefits of a lunchtime workout. If you are able to get away from your desk, a midday training session can help improve your mood and focus, while also providing an extra burst of energy to help you get through the latter part of the day.
Find an Indoor Activity You Love
Yes, one of the best aspects of your current workout is that it gets you outdoors, but if it is dark and freezing cold outside, the allure begins to fall away. So it’s no surprise that many outdoor trainers turn to indoor exercises during the coldest and darkest months of the year.
There are still plenty of wonderful indoor activities that can maintain your strength, stamina, flexibility, and even lung capacity while you wait for longer days to roll back around.
Yoga is extremely beneficial for strength, balance, and flexibility, and you need little more than your living room floor in order to complete a full workout. Thanks to on-demand content, and services like YouTube, nearly any aerobic or dance workout you could dream of is available for free. You could try out some of these in your home, and see which ones you like the best.
Lastly, you could consider joining a gym, or perhaps enrolling in workout classes over the winter months. This will add some extra expense, but it will also broaden your fitness horizons as you’ll get the chance to try out new equipment and new moves.
Get a Step Counter
At one point, step counters were fairly cost prohibitive, especially the very high-tech models. Luckily, the technology is widely available now in a variety of devices, some of which cost as little as $15. In fact, if you have a smartphone, there’s a good chance that you already have a step counter installed on it. Just remember to keep your phone with you throughout the day.
Setting a step goal, and checking your step count regularly throughout the day can be all the motivation you need to keep moving.
Form a Workout Group
Nothing gets you moving quite like friends, and the chance to socialize. Whether you form a group to meet up at a local gym, or an online group to encourage one another in your workouts, you are achieving the same goal.
Workout groups can help keep you accountable. You are more likely to show up if you know that you have other people waiting for you. Also, adding a social aspect to your workout makes it less of a chore, even in the dark winter months.
Find a Favorite Fitness App
Did you know you have direct access to expert personal trainers through your smartphone? There are hundreds of fitness apps available, each of which offers unique benefits to the user. Plenty of these apps are free, and some offer paid upgrades which can either put you directly in touch with a trainer, or connect you to a workout group where you can swap ideas. Either way, you have an entire gym’s worth of possibilities right there in your pocket.
The winter months can definitely add a layer of challenge onto your workout routine, but they don’t need to halt your efforts altogether. Try thinking outside the box, and have a go at some of these suggestions. Each one will keep you moving and you’ll thank yourself in the spring when your outdoor routine can start up again.