When you get in from work and it’s the dark, or wake up to a chilly, drizzly morning, it can be difficult to find the drive to get some exercise in, whether it’s making your way to the gym, heading out for a run or going to a class.
With decreased serotonin due to the reduction in sunlight, and increased melatonin from the darker nights, you may be feeling groggy, tired and uninspired, but actually, getting out and exercising could help with this.
According to personal trainer and nutrition coach at The Rhi Club, Rhianna Crisp, “As the chilly, sometimes gloomy autumn days start to creep in, it’s common for us to lose our motivation as quickly as we’re losing sunlight.
“When it comes to our health and fitness, we can’t always rely on motivation, but rather that drive, discipline, and habits you’ve built. Saying that, there are a few ways to help you re-light that fire in your belly and get you motivated to keep working on yourself.”
“It’s important this winter in particular to think about cost and safety, so prioritise group activities outdoors and free classes or exercise,” says Crisp.
Regaining that motivation is possible with a few simple habits.
1. Make a plan
According to fitness expert and director of Geezers Boxing, Leon Bolmeer, “Following a consistent routine you enjoy will help create both a boost in energy and optimism, as well as a willingness to want to exercise. Try to make exercise into a habit and plan your social life around your workout plans. We advise you to plan sessions for when you are least likely to abandon the idea.”
2. Give team sports a go
“Team exercise adds competition and the social element to exercise. Most of us are motivated by social interaction, and people often go to the gym or sports clubs because their friends are there, and it’s highly motivating,” says Bolmeer.
3. Do what you actually enjoy
Keeping motivated is hard if you don’t love the exercise you are doing.
Bolmeer explains: “This sounds obvious, but when it comes to exercise, it’s crucial you pick something you enjoy. Enjoying your exercise will increase the chances of long-term adherence. The best type of exercise is often a mix of activities you enjoy and are motivated to stick with. Some people get bored with the same exercise day after day, whereas others prefer a routine.”
4. Give group runs a go
Joining a running club or local event may encourage you to get out running – with a focus on safety in numbers if they run at night, too.
Crisp is a big advocate for Saturday Park Runs.
“Don’t let the word ‘run’ scare you. Park Run is basically an entirely free event that happens every Saturday at 9am in your local park. For October and beyond, you can run, jog, walk, plod your way around having a chat with your besties, or meet some new people! It’s a great way to get outside, get off your phone and get some exercise in. All you need to do is sign up on their website to get your personal barcode, which you scan at the end to get your time.”
This could be the motivation you need to compete with yourself for a Saturday PB all winter.
5. Set a performance goal – and write it down
Crisp knows how tricky it can be to stick with it.
“Back in the first lockdown winter, my gym closed for months, and I got myself into a right slump. I was looking for anything quick and easy to get me moving and motivated again. So, I decided I wanted to be able to do a handstand. Every evening, I’d practise for about 15 minutes, ensuring I was pushing myself a little closer each day. Three weeks in, I got my first handstand. It could be anything from a 60-second plank hold to skipping for 20 jumps without getting tangled.”
And hold yourself accountable.
“No matter how small or big. Write your goals down. Grab a bit of paper, or open the notes page in your phone and write down three things you want to achieve by Christmas.” says Crisp.
6. Prepare everything in advance
“Make exercise as frictionless as possible by prepping everything the night before: plan your workout, your route to the gym, put your workout gear and work clothes out, your toiletries and even prep the playlist or podcast you’ll listen to. In short, the less you have to decide in the morning, the easier it is to get up and get out,” says Matt Boyles, a personal trainer who runs Fitter Confident You.