While we’re all about nutrition here at Ora, we know that it’s just one important pillar of health - movement is also key for physical and mental wellness. And we hate to break it to you fit trackers out there, but movement is more than just burning calories. Spanning from cardiovascular health to sleep to mental function, fitting in weekly sweat session in whatever form you prefer is a necessity.
Unfortunately, sometimes exercising takes even more motivation than eating well. You do have to physically exert yourself after all, and it’s easy to find something that serves as a seemingly legitimate excuse to skipping out on your sweat session. There’s nothing worse for your exercise mojo than... Winter.
Here are a few ways to stay inspired, goal-oriented and ready to move in these frosty winter months.
To the temperature, to the light (or absence of it), to the conditions. Winter can provide less-than-desirable obstacles to exercise (why it’s oh-so-easy to stay under the warm covers or turn in early in the waning light), but it’s important to keep going outside.
Studies show those who exercised outside did so longer than those who were inside at a gym where conditions are perfectly controlled. Sure, you may be chilly when you start out or you stay cautious because of icy roads, but it’s more stimulating to workout outside. Your body has to work a little bit harder, but that means more calories burned. You’ll be visually stimulated which allows you to connect with nature, or you can let your mind wander. In other words, you can drop into a flow state. And if your mind wanders, maybe your body will wander (read: work out longer) too.
Sometimes winter is such a buzzkill that you literally can’t go outside. The good news is that limitations can often mean more creativity! Can you try a new workout to get excited about? It’s a perfect excuse to cross train. If high intensity is your thing, it’s a time to pepper in more yoga or pilates sessions to stretch out your tight, stressy muscles. Never take a day off from working out? You can instead focus on recovery-based methods or schedule a massage instead of a workout.
Get into the natural rhythm.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is the time to tonify your yin. In other words, how grounded you are, your connection to your sense of self and internalization. Yin is also characterized as being dark and cold, like winter. Going with workouts that are lower intensity help to develop your yin. Doing these types of workouts or approaching your higher intensity workouts in a more mindful, meditative way will allow you to tap into that natural seasonal shift while still reaping the benefits of your workout. Your body is always in flux, so allow the seasons to dictate the flow.
Find the light.
If you’re usually a morning exercise person but the dark mornings leave you hitting the snooze button, switch up when you’re working out. Can you fit in your sweat session during a light time of day, say on your lunch hour or during the weekends?
Exposure to the sun means greater exposure to vitamin D, the hormone-like micronutrient that regulates aspects of bone health (calcium metabolism) and immunity. Being in the sunlight during the daytime hours allows for melatonin (the hormone that helps you sleep) production sooner in the day. Pair that with the physical exertion and you’ll find yourself in for a deep, restorative slumber. Greater sunlight exposure also allows for higher serotonin (the hormone known to give you a cheery mood and positive outlook). Once darkness hits, serotonin converts to melatonin, adding to your naturally regulated melatonin levels. That means a happier day (no Seasonal Affective Disorder around here!) and a better sleep at night.
Another bonus: UVR sun rays naturally bump up endorphin production. Pair that with your workout-generated endorphins, and you’ve given yourself a double dose of happy energy.
Whether it’s with a fitness tracker or a real life workout buddy, you need to set goals and share them. Winter can be a great time to work on big projects, goals or tasks (since we’re less distracted when we’re not frolicking in the warm summer sun), so having structure and accountability means results seen and missions accomplished.
So, get out there people! Of course it’s natural to want to hibernate in the dark days of these winter months, but staying motivated and active will make for a healthy, well body all year round.