We all struggle to move our bodies in winter. All we really want to do is snuggle up on the couch with a hot drink and watch Netflix. But does this really help? Maybe in the short term, but definitely not in the long term. In this blog we will discuss the science behind why you may not be as motivated to exercise in winter and how to overcome this.
Movement increases blood flow
It starts with how colder temperatures affect our body and circulation. Cold air causes our arteries to tighten, which restricts blood flow to the heart and increases our blood pressure. It also means there is less oxygen travelling to the heart, which is already working hard to keep the rest of the body warm.
Proper circulation is key for maintaining optimal health. It ensures that blood and oxygen continuously flow throughout the body, allowing every organ to function properly. It helps to heal wounds faster, it keeps your brain sharp, it keeps your heart healthy and it even gives your complexion a natural flush.
Another important note is that good circulation can help fight off potential diseases and avoid illness. With good circulation, the white blood cells in your immune system will be transported around the body as needed.
One of the most effective ways to increase your circulation is through movement! Technically any movement will do the trick but increasing the heart rate is the most efficient way.
Movement can boost serotonin levels
The reduced level of sunlight in winter may cause winter-onset SAD (seasonal affective disorder). This decrease in sunlight can lead to a drop in serotonin levels which may disrupt your body's internal clock and lead to feelings of sadness or depression.
A scientifically proven way to increasing serotonin levels is (you guessed it) movement! It’s shown that just 20 minutes of exercise can help boost serotonin levels. However, there is a slight catch. You need to actually be enjoying the type of movement that you’re doing. Which brings us to the next, and probably most important note…
Remember why you move your body
Why do you exercise? Is it for your mental health? Do you feel calm or energised afterwards? Or maybe it’s because you can think clearer? When we feel a lack of motivation to move our bodies, it’s important to remember why we do it in the first place. Yes, there are plenty of health benefits, but what is your driving factor? Maybe you love the way Pilates makes your muscles feel. Or maybe you love the feeling of sweating! Whatever the reason is, keep reminding yourself how amazing you’ll feel after.
Of course, there will be days where you’re really not feeling it and, on those days, snuggling up on the couch would actually be the best thing for you. But on days where you do feel good, get that body moving!
Try to be as diverse as you can
Diverse workouts can also help keep things interesting and inspiring! If there are a couple of different types of workouts that you enjoy, try to rotate between them instead of doing the same thing every day. Diversity also keeps the mind active and will help with motivation.
It’s also hard to exercise outside in winter – for obvious reasons! So, try to come up with similar movements that can be practiced inside if it’s too chilly outside. For instance, if you would normally run outside in summer, you could try skipping or HIIT workouts indoors. If you swam in summer, you could try pilates or yoga which would actually help with keeping form for when you are ready to jump back into the pool!
Keep it short and sweet
You don’t need to be spending hours and hours in the gym in winter to compensate! 20-30 minutes per day is all your body needs to feel the benefits of movement. Here at PPF, the classes are 50 minutes long which includes a warm up and cool down/stretch sections. It always helps when you take the ‘thinking’ aspect away and allow one of our wonderful instructors to guide you through each movement so you can focus on form and breath.
With all of this said, it is definitely a challenge to stay motivated in winter. It’s ironic as we don’t want to exercise, but exercise is exactly what our body needs to feel better! Do the workouts that make your mind and your body feel good, try to mix it up and remember to listen to your body and what it needs from you on the day. Stay warm!
Want to read our other tips and tricks for staying motivated? Find out more here.