The cold, dark, and wet mornings are upon us again as we are heading towards winter. I have to admit, that even for me, who considers herself to be very fit, exercising can become a huge challenge at this time of the year. With each day, I am starting to lose the drive to answer the challenge of dragging myself to the gym or outdoors for a run. I am sure I am not alone with this – it is so tempting to stay under the cosy and warm duvet when the alarm clock goes off in the pitch dark room; or opt to curl up on the sofa in front of the fireplace with a book or a good movie, instead of hitting the gym or the trails after work. Our instinct to switch into ‘hybernation mode’ is stronger than ever.
However, whether you are a runner, a gym bunny or a home workout queen, exercising regularly is doubly important in the colder months. A lot of people tend to put on some weight because they are eating more comforting foods and moving a lot less. The colder and darker days also tend to lower our spirits; some of us start to experience the symptoms of ‘seasonal affective disorder’ or more commonly known as ‘winter blues’. By staying active and continuing to exercise frequently, you can not only prevent unwanted weight gain, but also improve your mood and overall sense of wellbeing during these months. Fitness goals do not pause for the cold months, and neither should you!
Here are my top 5 tips to ensure your workout motivation meter stays on high throughout autumn and winter:-
Exercise Outdoors During Brighter Times
If you know that the weather is likely to be grotty, or if you can’t stand running or working out in the dark, schedule these between late morning and early afternoon. These are the times when the temperatures are more bearable and the sun is highest. During spring and summer, I do most of my runs early in the morning, before work; however from late-October onwards, I opt to sleep in and head out for my runs just before I have my lunch. I have grown to enjoy my runs during these months; I actually find it quite invigorating to run when the air is so crisp. Of course, this is easier if you have showering facilities at work or near work; if all else fails, try to do your longer runs at the weekend.
Another reason is it so vital that you get a regular dose of sunshine and light is the fact that our body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin when we are outdoors. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with low mood and depression; and bones becoming soft and weak. Between April and September, we should be able to get most of our Vitamin D from sunlight exposure, however it can get slightly tricky to do the same in autumn and in winter as the days get significantly shorter, so our window of opportunity decreases.
Try Something New
It is time you challenge yourself to doing something you have never done before – this will force you to be fully engaged with the new activity or form of exercise, helping you stay away from boredom. Is there anything you have always had some interest for, but never got round to (chickened out of) doing? Whether it is a hot yoga class, indoor wall climbing, parkour or Cross Fit, the options are endless. Just make sure you get good instruction so that you can turn this rather grotty time of the year into a valuable and exiting learning experience.
Upgrade Your Music Playlist
I have found music to be a great way to find my exercising mojo again. Research has confirmed that music can distract from boredom, fatigue, it elevates mood and can even contribute to increased performance. Obviously, selecting the most effective workout playlist comes down to personal preference. Queuing up some fast, high energy beats perfectly does the trick for me and even helps me hit the right cadence whilst running, however you may be someone who gets into the groove when listening to something more subtle or completely different – for example, mu Hubby likes listening to comedy show podcasts whilst working out. One thing is certain: the most effective exercise music has been found to be between 120 and 140 beats per minute.
If you are looking for some inspiration to update your playlist, why don’t you check out my Audiofuel series here on my blog, within the Fitspiration category?
Exercising in a group can be another great source of motivation. Making concrete plans with another person means you are far less likely to cancel in favour of the sofa, as you would probably not want to inconvenience them. In addition to keeping you accountable, friends can also offer encouragement and camaraderieship when the going gets tough. I am always looking forward to heading out with my running group from church on Saturday mornings; so much so that I am even willing to get up earlier than during the working week (!) just to hit the muddy trails with them. After the run, we usually end up going into a cafe to catch up with each other, and to exchange some running stories. I honestly do not think I could summon up the willpower to run through winter without them!
Hook Yourself Up With New Gear
One of my mottoes is “If you look the part, you feel the part.” Stylish active wear always gets me excited to exercise – yep, that’s right! If you feel the same way, then that is one more session than you would have otherwise done, and in my opinion it is no less valid than the more traditional sources of ‘fitspo’ on social media!
In light of this, as you can imagine, I was really excited to receive 3 pairs of shoes from Gola to try and review from their new active wear collection.
A quintessentially British brand, Gola has been on the sports fashion scene since 1905. Having survived the turmoils of two world wars, it blossomed into a beloved sportswear brand in the 60’s and 70’s. Keeping true to its roots, Gola has become one of the most enduring and endearing sportswear and fashion brands in the UK, by combining styles from yesteryear with today’s most sought after trends.
I have put to the test three very different Gola sports shoes to get a good feel for what the range can offer:-
Angelo (black/white), Vallis (purple), Termas 2 (black/pink floral)
The very first thing I noticed is how comfortable they all are. Thanks to the generous fit, my feet did not feel squashed at all and I was able to move my toes freely. When buying sports shoes, I usually go for UK size 6.5 because most brands tend to have relatively small toe boxes; however, these Gola shoes were a perfect fit at size 6.
The second thing that became apparent as soon as I put them on is how lightweight they all are. I found Angelo to be the lightest one, I barely noticed I was wearing anything at all on my feet! It also has a breathable mesh upper which is a bonus. Vallis hugged my feet somewhat firmer and Termas was the firmest one. Having worn them in the gym for different classes, I concluded that for the more energetic classes where there is a lot of jumping and running around, Vallis and Termas are the best ones due to them having an inbuilt cushioning and stability mechanism. I find that shock absorption is essential when I am doing high impact exercises, so that my joints are relatively well protected. On the other hand, I have found Angelo perfect for weight lifting classes. This is because during these times I prefer to wear something with thinner soles, so that I can feel more ‘grounded’, with the heavy weights on my shoulders.
I also loved the colours – the Gola active range comes in all kinds of vibrant and contemporary colours, from sky blue to canary yellow to the more conservative shades of grey. You name it! The colours I choose were really versatile so I could easily pair them with my existing workout wardrobe.
On the whole, I felt that all three pairs are great all rounders in the gym. I would however personally not use them for running, unless you are more of a casual jogger. The reason for this is that for running I prefer to wear something more technical, due to the high mileage I do and the tough terrain I run on.
Even though Gola shoes are not a brand I have considered before, the time I spent wearing them was a really positive experience and I will definitely keep an eye out for new styles coming up in the future. If you would like to grab your own pair of Gola training shoes, head over to their website – as an added bonus, all next day deliveries are free in the UK!
Disclaimer: Thank you Gola for gifting me with the lovely shoes. All views and opinions expressed are of my own. The photos were taken by my Hubby, Simon, with me modelling the three Gola shoes.