From the cold to the weather to the lasting effects of a global pandemic, it can be hard to get active in the cold dark months of January. We know that engaging in physical activity has a wide range of benefits, so what can you do to keep moving as the cold winter days drag on?
We would be lying if we didn’t admit that staying motivated during the cold and dark winter months can be tricky. But you can do things to stay motivated to keep active, especially as research shows how important it is.
Sam Breary, CEO of accessibility app Accessercise agrees about the difficulty many have getting motivated: “The hardest bit is the very first step. Once you start it is much easier to keep going, starting is the difficult bit.”
One way to tackle this common problem is to set small, manageable goals to achieve and then celebrate your successes. Dawn Vickers, Executive Director of Spring into Action, echoes the sentiment. She told us: “Having things to look forward to is really important, so I remind myself of what I’d like to do this year and put some pictures up on my bedroom wall to remind me and make me smile.”
She also gave us some really timely advice about what helps when it comes time to muster up the energy to get active. She said, “Before I do my exercising (sic), I practice making time to meditate even if it’s only for 5 minutes, and I think about things that make me happy to get me in a good mood.”
Dawn also told us that focusing on her mood was really helpful to keep her motivated when it’s cold and dark. Meditating or even just being mindful in this way can be a great way to push through, rather than putting it off.
“I also take time to think about how good I feel after exercising, and I write something in a notebook to inspire me for next time. My exercise buddy likes to record a voice message on her phone to help her, but I like a nice notebook to write in.” Dawn explained.
These simple things, which are easy to build into your daily life, can ensure your motivation levels stay high during the cold months of winter.
Keeping a Good Routine
So now your motivation levels are high, how do you keep to a good routine?
Firstly, you can start with regular exercise that you can commit to. If this means that you can only exercise once a week, then do that. It is all about getting active in a way that suits you.
As Dawn explains: “Build it up once you’ve got into a routine of doing it once a week – get a buddy who will motivate you, and you can do the same for them.”
“Try lots of things and see what you like best. Don’t worry if you miss any of your planned exercising, you can start again when you’re ready.”
It is crucial to remember that this is your own plan and no one else’s, so you can make it work for you. Let’s say you find an activity that you love. If you note it down in your diary or on a calendar every week and tick it off when you’ve done it with. Getting active has so many benefits, so pay attention to how good you feel and tell people about it. If you feel good, it’s a gift that keeps on giving!
As Lizzi Jordan from the Get Yourself Active sounding board explained: “Getting active is not always going to be easy therefore it is incredibly important to reward yourself with a sense of achievement once goals are reached.”
At Get Yourself Active, we understand that many of you may feel more comfortable getting active at home. Part of building healthy routines and staying motivated to participate in ways that suit you.
If you haven’t already, make sure you check out our Active @ Home section on our website. We’ve recently added a range of new accessible content from Videos to Toolkits so you can get active in a way that suits you. The page also includes videos from some of our TIF partners. As well as this, we have pages dedicated to other resources, such as worksheets and downloadable resources.