Do you struggle to exercise when it starts to get both colder and darker? If you don’t, you probably don’t need my top tips and read on, have a good rest of your day! But if you do struggle, I am with you and these top tips I hope will help keep you motivated. Despite exercise being my job as a Personal Trainer, I know it can be easier to go for that run when the sun is shining, but heading out of your front door when the sun hasn’t even risen yet, well it can be pretty grim and unmotivating let’s be real!
Training in Autumn can be tough, let’s face it, you have to start dragging yourself out after a long day of work in the dark when all you want to do is stick on Netflix and binge on that series you’re hooked on right now, make a hot chocolate and wrap up in a blanket. So what’s going to motivate you to exercise this coming Autumn? Here are my top tips to keep you motivated for when we hit Autumn.
1. Remember Your Why
When you are struggling for motivation go back to the start: why did you want to start exercising in the first place? Do you have a particular goal? Do you want to get fitter, do you want to lose weight, do you want to feel more relaxed? On those days you can't be bothered and we all get them, keep that reason in the front of your mind. A goal really is awesome for you to work towards even if it is just to get yourself out the house and have some time to yourself, it doesn’t have to always be running a marathon or climbing a mountain! Remember the last time you didn’t want to workout but you did it anyway: that feeling of accomplishment after, add that to your why and remember the buzz from those endorphins!
When it is cold and miserable outside it can be especially hard to motivate yourself despite having that goal. You can easily talk yourself out of it with “I’m tired” or “I’ll do it tomorrow”, we have all been there I am sure. Skipping the odd session is fine, sometimes it may actually be needed to rest but if it starts happening more often than training and actually missing your workouts does in fact become your new habit you have a problem here my friend! An accountability partner or workout buddy can be the answer to your can’t be bothered issue / situation. An accountability partner can come in many forms from a professional Personal Trainer, a workout group, a mate who needs to workout too or simply sharing it on Insta (it’s publicly out there now you have to do it approach, don’t underestimate this final one). If you have someone you are exercising with you are less likely to skip the workout as you’ve made a commitment to them too, there is evidence to back this up!
3. Time Of Day
This is really important and maybe I should have put this first as this is one of my own biggest barriers to exercising. For me, I have always been an early bird and when it comes to 9pm I slowly and surely shut down: there is no point starting a late night movie with me as I won’t make it to the end. All jokes aside, I know that about me though and my best time to workout is well at the crack of dawn during my most motivated and functioning time of day; you may be the opposite and prefer an evening workout? If there’s an exercise session I am most likely to miss it’s midweek hockey training after a 10 hour day at work. Sounds reasonable right? So what motivates me to go: being a part of a team (that accountability partner or 20 of them) and quite simply put if I don’t train I don’t make the team there are consequences.
So, what time of day suits you best? If you struggle to get up when the mornings are darker or after a long day or work, would a lunchtime or evening workout suit you best? Listen to your excuses and adapt, just because you were motivated on a summer night for a long run doesn’t mean it will work in Autumn and Winter.
4. Mixing Up Exercise Routines
A lot of people start their fitness routines earlier in the year either following a New Year’s resolution or a kick start ready for a summer holiday, so what motivates us in the darker, colder months? As I said before those summer night runs may have worked a month ago but what is going to motivate you now the weather changes and we hit Autumn, do you need to mix up your routine as well?
It’s not just the seasons, it can be the length of time you’ve been training too. When was the last time you switched up your exercise classes, equipment or days you worked out? Keep it interesting not only will it prevent boredom it will promote progression.
5. Indoor Alternatives
Let’s be realistic here for a second, do you like exercising outside in the cold, dark and rain? If you don't, can you do that activity inside? For example, do you need to mix up road running for running on a treadmill if you don’t like the battering rain? If you don’t want to leave the house to head to the gym because it’s dark (it’s a valid excuse) can you do a home workout instead? Allow yourself some flexibility in your routines for the weather and have that back up indoor option and give alternatives to your excuses.
6. Try Something New
If you have tried the tips above and none are working for you, is it time to try something completely new, maybe you just don’t enjoy your exercise or training? Have you always wanted to start a sport like badminton or try a Barre class and take you back to your ballet days as a kid? Make sure you have an activity you look forward to or it’s going be tough to convince yourself that Netflix, a hot chocolate and blanket can wait!
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Written by Jade Mottley - Sport Science BSc & Human Nutrition MSc