This Is the Key to Sticking With Your Exercise Routine When the Seasons Change
From drinking mocktails in the summer sun to admiring fall foliage or cozying up inside with your favorite book during winter, there’s something to love about every season — including looking forward to the next. While change is inspiring and refreshing, new seasons can also affect our sleep, happiness, and wellness routines. Cary Williams, a former boxer and Olympic level coach, recently schooled us on why some people lose their motivation to exercise or find it harder to stick with healthy habits.
“Depending on where you live, winter and summer months can present extreme weather or uncomfortable temperatures that makes it unenjoyable, or even impossible, to tackle your go-to outdoor workouts,” she explained. “You might experience weather that makes it hard to get to a class or the gym, whether you usually drive or walk.” Williams also noted that many people prefer to hole up at home during the dark, cold months — but we know first-hand that sunshine and long, warm days make ditching a pre-scheduled workout in favor of patio cocktails or an impromptu BBQ a tempting option.
As if that’s not enough, your sleep cycles and circadian rhythms — which are affected by seasonal changes — directly affect how much energy you have, how you feel, and when you’re most productive or up for a physical challenge. “If you usually wake up early, in the winter you’ll wake up in the dark,” Williams says “That little change in sunlight can cause you to feel more tired later on during the day.”
5 Ways to Stick With Exercise Year-Round
The problem with seasonal exercise interruption comes down to one thing when you’re looking to see results: Consistency. “Consistency is the key to becoming and staying healthy and fit,” she says. “Once you’re consistent with your exercise routine, you won’t have to think about it as much and your body will stay strong, your heart healthy, and your mind sharp. When we ‘fall of the wagon’ or do a yo-yo routine due to seasonal changes, we confuse our bodies — and you’ll miss out on seeing the results you usually work so hard for.” Thankfully, Williams gave us five tips to make exercise a habit you can keep with every kind of climate, weather, or season.
1. Switch your workout according to the season. “I’m actually a big fan of seasonal change because I tend to just stick to one workout. A new season is a reminder and a reason to add extra exercises to my normal boxing routine,” Williams admits. “So for me, I supplement boxing with running a few days in the spring or fall. In summer, I add in patio workouts with a set of dumbells and a jump rope.”
Too hot or cold outside? Williams says indoor weightlifting or gym time is always a good idea. “If I can’t do anything else, I go for weight lifting and, in between sets, shadow boxing.” Work up a sweat, and you’ll be good to go.
2. Choose a core exercise routine that you can do year round. Williams swears by boxing because it blends cardio, strength training and stress relief, but anything else that fits the bill will work too. Pilates, barre fitness classes, joining a league, or spin are also great options. “The trick is to pick something you can constantly improve at, that will keep you interested, and that you can do year-round,” she said.
3. Try working out at a different time of day. Changing when you workout might help you deal when there’s a change of season. “If you normally exercise in the evening after work, you may want to change it to a morning workout during the winter,” Williams says. “It’s easier to stay motivated when it’s still light out, but when you leave work and it’s dark, you’re more likely feel tired or like you just want to go home.” When you check your exercise off the to-do list first thing, there’s no chance for it to slip off your radar.
4. Prepare yourself for the seasonal change. A little prep work can go a long way! Love your favorite outdoor workouts? Williams suggests investing in gear if it’ll help you power through during a different season. “Buy the things that will keep you warm in the winter or cool in the summer,” she advises. “When you don’t have the correct clothing, you’ll have another excuse to skip out on exercise.”
5. Have a few at-home workouts you can do anytime. Home workouts can be a game-changer in instances where you simply can’t get outside, like in a snowstorm. “There’s so much you can do in a small space,” Williams promises. “If you have tile or linoleum floors, use a couple of washcloths and tackle an entire slider workout. If you don’t have any weights at home, do body weight exercises such as squats, lunges, pushups, situps, and planks. In between exercise, do jumping jacks to add in even more cardio. If you need more guidance, digital classes from The Bar Method, Kayla Itsines BBG, or Tone It Up are great places to start.