Goodbye Sun, Goodbye Motivation?

Summer is officially gone. Is the fading light zapping your energy and motivation to stay healthy and fit? Here are 5 tips to keep you strong during the darker months.  

Today is the Autumn Equinox (the first day of Fall) in the Northern Hemisphere when the day equals the night. Starting tomorrow, we’ll gradually lose sunlight and gain more moonlight until the longest night of the year, Winter Solstice (or the first day of Winter). Ah, yes, most of us can get get depressed just thinking about it!

This is quite natural, as the levels of vitamin D we receive from the sun cannot be found in food alone. These amounts of vitamin D provides us with energy and health. Lack of sunlight can wreak havoc on our systems, especially our moods, and the majority of us living in parts of the world that experience winter often come down with varying degrees of S.A.D. (Seasonal Affect Disorder).

(If you’re interested in learning more about the prevalence of vitamin D deficiencies and how it affects our health, read this post, Screw Apples. Sunlight Works Better.)

One of the best ways to increase our energy, motivation and moods is through physical activity. Exercise naturally increases levels of our feel-good neurotransmitters (specifically, serotonin) which produce feelings of relaxed well-being – the same ones activated when we’re exposed to sunlight!

Getting the right amount of activity during the darker months not only helps guard against the winter blues, it also improves our immune systems. If you’re prone to colds and flus, exercise actually increases the ability of our bodies to fight against foreign viral invaders.

But how do we fight our feelings when the alarm clock goes off, it’s still dark outside and all we want to do is snuggle into our beds for an extra 30 minutes?

Tips to Stay Motivated & Healthy in Cold Months

  1. Change it up! Anything new can inspire motivation. Get a new personal trainer, join a new fitness class (hey, wouldn’t Hot Yoga be perfect?), change up your workout program, buy new fitness DVDs or clothes, try martial arts, get a puppy to jog with… the possibilities are endless!
  2. Use your internal furnace. Our bodies are truly amazing. Save some money and before you turn up the thermostat in your house, try turning up the fire within you. Get down on the floor and do pushups or other floor/core exercises, or throw on your runners and get outside – even a walk will increase your blood flow and internal core heat!
  3. Work with the seasons. Although we’re suggesting that you overcome your natural tendencies to be less active in the colder months, there is something to be said about working with nature. More sleep IS necessary at this time of year and we should start winding down in our other activities in order for more rest and inward activities (like meditating and planning for the spring). But this shouldn’t come at the cost of taking care of our bodies’ needs. Instead of that extra 30 minutes of TV at night, hit the sack early. You’ll most likely wake up refreshed and ready to tackle your morning workout.
  4. Work with your body’s natural rhythms. Hey, maybe a morning workout isn’t for you. Feel free to sleep in! But make sure to be active at some point during the day. If you feel like you have more energy mid-day or after work, get your exercise time in then. The point is to JUST DO IT, whenever and where ever you can. Your body will thank you.
  5. A little goes a long way. We all have our days, especially during the colder months. While we don’t suggest coddling yourself, we do suggest listening to your body. Sometimes we just don’t have it in us, that day, to really put 100% effort into our efforts. Maybe we slept poorly, just had a fight with our lover or a task took longer than expected. That’s ok; but don’t make it an excuse NOT to be active at all. Be kind to yourself and do what you can do in every given moment. Push yourself even just a little bit, in time, in effort, in reps or however you see fit, and you will reap the rewards.

These are all tips in how to stay physically active and motivated at the time of year when night reigns. If you’d like some suggestions in how to improve your health in other ways, read this post: How to Naturally Cure the Winter Blahs.

Do you have any tips in how you stay active and motivated despite the lack of sunlight?     

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