Our Top 16 Exercise tips for Overcoming the Winter Blues and Preparing Your Summer Body Now!
Motivating yourself to exercise during winter can be hard. With shorter days, cold and wet weather, it can be easier to give in to temptation and curly up under a blanket with some comfort food and Netflix. However, exercising in winter can be one of the most powerful things you can do, not only to beat the winter blues but also give yourself an enviable beach body.
So here are our top 16 tips for beating the winter blues and achieving your dream summer body.
1: Set a Psychological Focus
We hear about players psyching themselves up before a game, but we somehow always forget that it’s just as important to psych ourselves up before exercising. Getting yourself into the right mental space is incredibly important, not just for your mental health, but also for the success of your work out. Start out by asking yourself a few questions:
What does exercising mean for you?
Do you want to lose weight?
Increase your self-esteem?
Improve your health?
How will exercising help you feel more comfortable in your own skin?
2: Get Out and Exercise
Taking that first step toward exercising – especially in the colder months – is half the battle. Try packing your gym gear in your work bag or having a bag of gym gear in your car already. You can also organise to work out with a friend and keep each other honest by arranging to meet on specific nights. Most people find that, once they’ve thrown on their gym gear, they can shut off their negative internal monologue and get into their routine.
Further, resist the temptation to peek outside and check the weather before you go exercising. Just throw your gear on and get out there. If you let yourself think too much about it, you might psych yourself out. So just do it and get going!
3: Swimming and Steam Rooms
Going out running, cycling or walking in the rain can be miserable. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a treadmill. Swimming is a fantastic way to exercise during winter. Indoor swimming works your whole body, burns calories, can help improve your posture, and improves your cardiovascular function.
Further, follow your swim by spending time in your pool’s steam room. Steam helps open the pores, improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, clears congestion from winter colds, boosts the immune system, loosens stiff joints, and helps you recover after your work out.
4: Get Out in the Rain
For those who are happy to brave the weather, there is nothing more invigorating to the senses, the mood and the body. Even in dreary weather, getting out in the light can do wonders for your mood. If you are in the right frame of mind to get out there and exercise in the winter weather, throw on your favourite music, wear layers that are easy to be removed but that can keep you warm at the start of your exercise, and, above all, don’t forget to release your inner child a little and jump in a jump through a few puddles!
5: Work Out DVDs and YouTube
For those who aren’t interested in swimming, running in the rain, or going swimming, then why not try some work out DVDs or exercise videos on YouTube. If you already have a collection at home and they’re not motivating you anymore, swap videos with your friends so you have some new motivation to work with.
The benefit of exercising in your own home is that you can do it at any time of the day or night. Can’t sleep at 1am? Nothing’s stopping you from stretching well and then throwing on a good work out video to get yourself moving. However, working out at home does make it easy for you to keep putting your exercising off. So keep yourself honest by firmly putting some workouts in your calendar, and enjoy the extra spontaneous ones when they come!
6: Join a Gym or Find a Personal Trainer
Joining a gym can be a fantastic way of motivating yourself to exercise in the winter months. Many gyms also offer health and fitness assessments to help you get a better idea of what you need to do to get summer ready. Or you can advantage of a skilled personal trainer.
Most gyms will have personal trainers or fitness instructors you can hire to help you on your weight loss and fitness journey. Further, working with a personal trainer means you can learn exercises or become proficient with gym equipment you might not otherwise have tried. They can also help you challenge yourself.
7: Group Work Outs
An energetic group workout can be the ideal way to wake up on a cold winter morning. The best way is to sign up with a friend – keeping both of you honest.
8: Seasonal Sports
Taking up a seasonal sport is a great idea in winter, rather than trying to push through with walking or running in the rain. With specialised rinks set up for ice-skating in the city or if there’s enough snow on the mountains for skiing or snowboarding, why not try a traditional winter sport?
Taking lessons in a more traditional winter sport will also give you a structured approach to your exercise, ensuring results and a better sense of achievement. And winter sports like ice skating or snowboarding require balance, as well as strength and cardio, in order to achieve the best outcome. So not only will you have fun and maybe push out of your comfort zone, you’ll also burn calories, strengthen and tone muscles and work your cardiovascular system.
If getting out into the snow isn’t for you, why not try martial arts, dance, netball or even horse riding! All these sports combine balance, strength, coordination, posture and cardio into one work out.
9: Take Time to Sleep and Relax
It might be tempting to go all out and push yourself during winter in order to achieve that perfect summer body, however one of the most important things to remember is to also relax. Relaxing allows the body to repair after a workout and burn fat.
Further, ensuring you sleep enough is paramount. Relaxing during a busy work day is also critical. Pencil in a few critical moments of relaxation a day. For example, shut your eyes and focus on taking ten long, slow, deep breaths.
It is amazing the kind of results you can get from proper rest and relaxation. Combined with a proper work out, you’ll actually see a marked improvement in your energy levels. Further, it will actually give you a boost toward your summer body goals, allowing you to burn fat faster and more effectively. A rested body is one that’s ready to get back into a workout.
10: Set Realistic Goals
One of the best things you can do for your perfect summer body and your mental health is set realistic goals for yourself. For example, if you only have a month before summer hits, you’re not going to be able to do a complete overhaul of your body. But you can make some important changes. You just have to keep your goals within reason.
Try to focus your goals around fitness and lifestyle rather than numbers on a scale. You’ll find it is easier to achieve the goal of “climbing the stairs at work, without getting tired” or “running 5k in 30 mins” is far better for you, mentally and physically, than attempting to lose 20kgs.
It is all about working out what is achievable and what goals are just setting you up for failure.
Further, one of the most important factors of gaining the perfect summer body is not thinking of it entirely as an outer transformation. Instead, think of it as gaining a healthier body rather than one that just looks good. If you focus on feeling good on the inside, you will find it is much easier to start feeling amazing on the outside!
11: Build Muscle Mass
If you’re looking to tone up before summer, many people make the mistake of hitting the row of cardio machines at the gym. While this is always a good idea – cardio is an important part of our work out – it is not the ideal way to make long lasting physical changes. Instead, you need to focus on muscle mass.
Of course, most people aren’t going to put on a lot of muscle in the few short months before summer. However, you can add some muscle mass in that time. Not a huge amount, but enough to see a difference, remembering that increasing muscle mass also increases the rate of fat burning.
Add some weight training to your workouts to make them more interesting as well. Further, by putting on more muscle, you will increase your metabolism which also helps with weight loss. Focus on larger muscle groups, like the legs and chest which will burn up more calories overall. While you may like to exercise smaller muscle groups – such as your biceps – larger muscle groups are where you will see the biggest calorie burn and strength gain, and still work those smaller muscles.
12: Caffeinate Before Your Work Out
It is tempting to stay curled up in bed in winter. After all, tearing yourself out bed and into the cold is not fun. However, once you’re at the gym – or your favourite activity – it really isn’t so bad. But until we can invent instant teleportation to get us from our cosy warm homes and to the gym, we need a way to motivate ourselves.
One way of doing so is a quick cup of coffee. It can be that quick, added boost you need to get you into your gym clothes and out the door.
13: Forget Cheat Days
Cheat days have become popular among fitness and dieting experts alike. This designated day that allows you to eat whatever you want, with no concern to health or nutrition, sounds amazing!
However, it is one of the biggest hindrances to beating the winter blues and achieving that ideal summer body.
Cheat days hurt you in the long run. In the span of, say, six months, with a cheat day every week, you’re adding on so many calories just because you feel the need to have that extra slice of cake or pizza.
However, you don’t need to forgo an indulgent meal, just space them out better. Keep things within reason. For example, if you know you’re going to go to the gym and for a long walk, then a higher calorie meal won’t ruin your progress. Just avoid eating high calories meals on the same day you’re going to be inactive.
14: Cut Down Booze
It might seem like blasphemy in Australia, but giving up alcohol really does mean giving up an enormous empty kilojoules. Drinking alcohol in excess is entirely empty nutritionally and will hurt all your fitness goals as well as hurting your chances to overcome the winter blues. More often than not, social drinking is accompanied by snacking, and suddenly you’re kilojoule intake soars.
15: Plan Your Meals
Planning out your meals might seem a bit obsessive however it is one of the best ways to kickstart your summer body goals. By planning your meals around your exercise plans, you can make sure you are always energised and ready for the day – or activity – ahead.
Planning snacks can help give you an energy boast when you need it and planned meals help stop you from indulging in sneaky take out or cheat meals on inactive days.
16: Keep Hydrated
Always remember to keep hydrated. It always feels harder in the winter but keeping hydrated can help stop you overeating in the winter. If you’ve just eaten but still feel hungry, try having a glass or two of water, remembering of course that all fluid contains water. All too often we confuse hunger and thirst and accidentally overeat.
If you are not drinking enough – at least 8 glasses of fluid a day – don’t expect your body to take to it right away. Start slowly, increasing your fluid level gradually each day. In that way you are more likely to stick with it by letting your body adapt. Increasing water content is one of the best ways to feel full, with little or no calories. Proper hydration also means cleaner skin and a better workout!
Remember staying hydrated doesn’t mean you can only drink water, but keep in mind sugary drinks and juices will also increase calorie intake.