If you’re like me, as soon as the leaves go from turning to falling and we hit the end of Daylight Saving Time, everything starts to slow down. You’re ready to hibernate.
Soon it will be dark when most of us leave work, making it even harder to get motivated for an evening workout. Even if you’re used to getting up at oh-dark-thirty to exercise in the morning, the cold temperatures can make staying in bed an all-too-easy option.
The good news for all of us would-be hibernators is the experts with the American Council on Exercise (ACE) have some tips to help us stay active, eat mindfully and wake up New Year’s Day feeling good.
- Get out of Your Rut
Hitting the treadmill three times a week is good, but boring. That boredom can be the beginning of the end of your exercise program. Keep things fresh by trying something new, whether that means trying a new class at the gym or taking your run outside.
- Join a Group
Sign up for a class, a training group, or a club sport to keep yourself motivated. If the group is expecting you to be there, you’re more likely to stick to your routine.
- Indoor Ideas
Just because the cold is keeping you inside doesn’t mean you can’t get a great workout. Hit the treadmill or elliptical at the gym (or at home if you have the equipment there), visit an indoor pool to swim laps, or borrow an exercise DVD from the library (or stream it online). If you’re a cycling enthusiast, convert your bike into a stationary model with a wind trainer.
- Outdoor Chores
Fall and winter are full of chances to tackle your workout and your “to do” list at the same time. Calorie-busting chores include raking leaves, cleaning gutters, chopping wood and – eventually – shoveling snow.
- Establish an Active Tradition
This year, gather around your Thanksgiving table and enjoy the feast, but follow it up with a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Better yet, sign up for this year’s Turkey Trot with the Friends of the Way Station! Get your turkey day workout out of the way with a morning 5K Run or 1K Fun Run/Walk and raise money to help people living with mental illness reach their personal and professional goals. Talk about getting in the holiday spirit!
Another fall and winter dilemma: should you still work out if you’re sick?
The experts – both with ACE and at Frederick Memorial Hospital – stress listening to your body. If you’re truly exhausted or otherwise feeling awful, it’s probably best to take the day off. If your symptoms are above the neck (like a head cold or a cough that’s hanging on after your other symptoms eased) it’s usually okay to go ahead and exercise. If you have fever, aches, or other below-the-neck symptoms like chest congestion, it’s best to rest up before getting back into your routine.
In general, if you’re not sure you’re up to the workout it’s better to miss a day (or two, whatever your body needs) than push too hard and set yourself back in your recovery. If you’re on the fence, you can always call your doctor for more symptom- and patient-specific advice.