Healthier Together Series: 4B. Physical Activity – Crisp Weather

dan-freeman-VAWqURK_Th0-unsplashToday’s physical activity note:
Master the Common Fall Excuses

Enjoy now and prepare for what’s to come. In the Midwest, fall marks the changing weather and beautiful sounds and colors around us. Leaves are changing colors, sunsets and sunrises are beautiful, the crinkly leaves on the ground and rattling in the trees are lovely. Kids are in school so there are quieter times of the day in the neighborhood…depending on where you live.

However, with these changes, comes some more frantic moments – before and after school- coordinating with others regarding schedules, homework, work, feeding the family, extracurricular activities, social activities, etc. running the household- whether you are alone or with others, is busy. And when the days get shorter and it gets cooler out, our body’s natural responses may mean we start to decrease our vigilance and focus in taking care of ourselves. Waking up gets harder, getting out of the warm bed and into the cold air is a challenge, the weather outside starts to seem too uncomfortable to go out there. On top of it, if you are also needing to worry about getting the kids up and ready for school, that takes up precious time so it’s easy to run out of time in the morning to squeeze in some physical activity. By evening, you are tired and hungry, have to drive everyone to their activities, cook, run errands, go through the mail, help with homework and “projects,” maybe even do some of your own work, etc. etc.

This “Fall transition” often manifests first, in skipping workouts or cutting out or cutting down on our physical activity. Where to squeeze it in?!

First: Plan ahead and be prepared. You know what interfered with your health plans in the past. “I am tired and have so much going on, there isn’t enough time” and “I need more sleep” and “it’s too cold” are common excuses of why those workouts fizzled out.

Master Fatigue
If you keep active through the changes of seasons and cold weather, your metabolism will continue to rev at a higher burn rate through winter (instead of the usual “metabolic slow down”) and especially during those times you may eat foods you wouldn’t normally eat (hello holidays). Also, if you remain active, you will feel less fatigued in general.

Remember, you need less time in bed and you get better sleep the more fit you are. In other words, you add time to your day when you are fit! So if you are tired of being tired, getting fit and staying fit, will help with that! Organize your sleep around your workouts! If you wake up early and are still sleepy, nap later, go to sleep earlier, deal with any sleep debts at times other than your physical activity time. Keep your physical activity a top priority.

If you are tired at the end of the day or after work when you normally workout, do your physical activity and THEN rest. The physical activity can be abbreviated or an alternative less intense activity- it still counts! You may find that once you start exercising and get in the habit of exercising, you develop MORE energy and are no longer too tired to do other things! Again, regular physical activity gives you MORE effective awake time in your day!

Master the Cold
About the cold, if you workout outside and you live in a climate with brutal winters, have alternative workouts for those days you can’t workout per your planned routine. Of course, if you are able and want to keep working out outside, you can find appropriate winter sports or go to an outdoor recreation store and get the appropriate cold weather gear so you can continue to be physically active outside.

When you have the right gear, it’s so much more fun and motivating! My personal cold weather outerwear is from the NorthFace. Initially, the cost prohibited me from trying it but after spending way more in multiple different jackets that each had limitations, and therefore limited
my options, I invested in a NorthFace jacket. I can wear my jacket indoors or outdoors and my body temp feels the same and unaffected by the temperature. No overheating or freezing and it is lightweight and easy to move in. Some days, I wear it all day long- inside and out. It has revolutionized my options for winter activities.

Here are some additional thoughts and tips. See also the earlier blog about how to manage excuses.

1. Pick a shorter workout to do in the morning, that you will do. Maybe you will workout at home and do a DVD workout program or use one from YouTube which is only 15 minutes? Or try high intensity interval training so that you get more out of your workout in less time?

2. Remember it is cold when you get out of bed whether it is to get ready for work or the kids or if you are going to treat yourself to some personal time to move and enjoy the quiet of the morning before others wake up. Use this early morning time for yourself first. Keep your workout gear, clothes nearby so you just start before you are fully awake. Have some warm cushy outer covering to put on over your usual workout clothes (or PJ’s) so you are warm as you get up to start moving. Get into those workout clothes, ie. sports bra. Just getting into my workout clothes – mainly my sports bra, makes it 99% more likely I will exercise.

If you can set your thermostat on a cycle to warm up 30 minutes before waking up, that will help too.

Then, see #1 above – move your body- Tai Chi is great or take a brisk walk outside. Do some stretches. Whatever will get your blood and fluids circulating…it is such a great way to start the day.

3. Plan to do some movement in those brief moments throughout your day when it’s not enough time to do something else, it may be the times you might check email or social media. Find some physical activities you can do at those times. At least standings is better than sitting. Walking is even better. Plank pose is good. Push-ups- even modified push-ups against a wall. Some crunches. How about some lunges or squats or plies? High knees? What about calf raises where you go up and down onto your tip toes? Do you like jumping jacks or jumping rope? Swing your hips while you are standing. Overhead reaches to stretch out. Gently roll your neck and shoulders. How about some arm circles?

Please share your tricks to maintaining or incorporating physical activity into your day as you master the excuses.

 

Photo by Dan Freeman on Unsplash

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