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How to change your workout routine for autumn and winter to stay motivated

Posted by for Workouts

If you established a good workout routine during the summer months, it’s important to make some adjustments for it now winter is just around the corner

Working out can be difficult in the winter. Gone are the days of sunny evening runs in the park or morning trips to the lido. Instead, it’s often dark when we finish work and a night on the couch in front of the TV is a lot more appealing than a rainy walk to the gym.

But exercising in winter can be an amazing way to boost your mood, particularly if you struggle from SAD (seasonal affective disorder), as exercise releases endorphins. You might just need to make a few adjustments to the way you exercise now the nights are darker and the days are colder in order to make sure your routine is achievable and sustainable.

Here are some tips on how to do so, with advice from Strong Women trainer Emma Obayuvana and Claire Davis, a life coach and the founder of The Midlife Mentors.

Figure out your chronotype

Your chronotype is the natural inclination of your body to sleep at a certain time. Basically, it dictates whether you’re an early bird or a night owl. With limited daylight hours in winter, it’s more important than ever to figure out your chronotype and try to make sure your exercise routine suits it.

“Light plays a role in regulating our circadian rhythm so as the days become shorter, our sleep and waking cycles may be disrupted,” says Davis. “The lack of sunlight means our brain produces more of a hormone called melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy and therefore less motivated to move our body.”

In the winter try and maintain a regular sleep routine that suits your chronotype as much as possible, fitting your exercise around that routine.

Make the most of daylight hours

It’s really important that we continue to get outside in order to get enough vitamin D during winter. If you do have a desk job, try and get outside before work or on your lunch break.

“I tend to swap early morning and evening runs for lunchtime runs so I can make the most of the daylight,” says Obayuvana.

Experiment with home workouts

Getting out of bed and out of the house can feel a lot harder in winter, so why not take one step out of the process by trying out home workouts. “In winter I keep all of my resistance workouts with dumbbells indoors,” says Obayuvana.

There are a whole range of workouts you can do at home including pilates, HIIT and barre. Giving yourself the option to workout at home will ensure you’re still able to reach your goals even if you can’t make it to the gym sometimes.

Try something new

If you’re used to exercising outside, winter could be a great time to try some new indoor classes. Many of us have more time on our hands in winter, so if your routine is feeling dull, try a new class or type of exercise that you’ve never done before.

“I like to take advantage of dark evenings with yoga sessions,” says Obayuvana. Incorporating new forms of exercise into your routine might help you to stay excited about working out, so this can be a great way to switch up your routine if you’re lacking motivation in winter.

Workout with other people

One of the main issues with exercise in the winter is that it often feels unsafe to exercise outside alone in the dark. To counter this, try joining a group or a club. “Team sports are a good option,” suggests Davis. “You could also join a running club.”

If you are going to exercise in the dark, make sure to wear some sort of high-vis clothing and try to keep to well-lit areas.

Set yourself a goal

It can be hard to stay motivated to exercise at the best of times so one of the most important things you can do to maintain your routine during winter is to set yourself a goal. Whether that’s a personalised training plan or an aim to lift a certain weight or do a certain move by a particular time, make sure your goal is personalised to you and something you can plan your workouts around. Structured workouts will also help you see progress quicker which will, in turn, help you feel more motivated to train.

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Images: Getty

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