Welcome to the Bammbu blog! As a Canadian fitness clothing company, we know a thing or two about staying active and (hopefully) motivated during the cold winter months. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real problem, and it can be tough to keep up your fitness routine when the weather outside is dreary and your car is covered in ice and snow! But don't worry, we've got some tips and tricks to help you stay mentally and physically on track, even when the temperature drops and the days get shorter.
Let's be real – sometimes, no matter how much you love working out, it can be tough to stay motivated. That's where a little bit of mental trickery can come in handy. Some tried and true motivation methods work wonders for this specific problem, since moving from a sedentary cold weather lifestyle to a new energized and fit “you” can take some mental prodding!
To start, try setting small, achievable goals for yourself – like committing to a certain number of workouts a week or increasing your weights by a pound each week. Seeing progress, no matter how small, can be a huge motivator. And don't forget to reward yourself when you accomplish those goals! Something simple like allowing yourself an extra snack or a small shopping trip at the end of a successful week can give yourself something to look forward to can help keep you motivated. Don’t fret too much about rewarding yourself with some extra calories - the main goal during these tough winter months should be boosting your levels of motivation and exertion, which will positively effect your mood and mental health! You can always turn your attention towards looking your best once you’re feeling happy and healthy!
Another cheat code for staying motivated is to find a workout buddy. Having someone to hold you accountable and cheer you on can make all the difference. And if you can't find a buddy in person, there are plenty of online options – consider joining a virtual fitness community or finding a workout partner on social media. Keeping a written log of your workouts for each day, and the length of time spent exercising is a great way to boost your motivation to keep at it! If you’d like to try a custom designed winter workout program aimed at keeping Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues) at bay, check out our blog on just that topic!
If you're not a fan of braving the cold to go for a run or hit the gym, there are plenty of ways to stay active indoors. Consider investing in some home workout equipment, such as a stationary bike or a set of dumbbells. Or, take advantage of online fitness classes and tutorials, which offer a wide range of workouts that can be done in the comfort of your own home. Home workout options are a great way to stay active during the winter months, if you’re looking for ways to mix up your fitness routine and escape winter drudgery. Not only can home workouts be convenient and cost-effective, but they can also be tailored to your specific fitness goals and preferences. Here are a few specific types of home workout programs that can benefit your physical and mental well-being:
- Yoga: Yoga is a great option for anyone looking to improve their flexibility, strength, and balance. It's also a fantastic way to reduce stress and improve mental clarity. There are countless yoga tutorials and classes available online, so you can easily find one that fits your skill level and schedule. Taking a bit extra time finding video instruction from a teacher you vibe with is hugely beneficial. Not only is it more enjoyable, but its easier to retain information and you’ll find yourself looking forward to your new yoga sessions!
- HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training is a type of workout that involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief periods of rest. It's a great way to get your heart rate up and burn some serious calories, and it can be done with minimal equipment. You can find plenty of HIIT workout videos online, or you can create your own using bodyweight exercises like burpees, mountain climbers, and jumping jacks.
- Strength training: Strength training is important for maintaining bone density, increasing metabolism, and improving overall physical function. You don't need a fancy gym membership to get in a good strength training workout – all you need is a set of dumbbells (or even a couple of full water bottles if you don't have dumbbells) and a little bit of space. There are countless strength training workouts available online (including ours), or you can create your own using exercises like:
- Push Ups (from feet or knees): Works the chest, shoulders, and triceps
- Squats: Works the legs, glutes, and lower back
- Lunges: Works the legs, glutes, and hips
- Planks: Works the core, shoulders, and back
- Sit-ups: Works the abdominal muscles
- Leg lifts: Works the lower abdominal muscles
- Bicep curls: Works the biceps
- Tricep dips: Works the triceps
- Burpees: Works the full body
- Pilates: Pilates is a type of exercise that focuses on strengthening the core, improving posture, and increasing flexibility. It's a great option for anyone looking to improve their overall physical strength and stability, and it can be done with minimal equipment. You can find plenty of Pilates tutorials and classes online, or you can invest in a Pilates reformer if you want to take your workouts to the next level.
Now, how about outdoor winter exercises? While it's definitely important to have some indoor options for staying active during the winter months, it's also important if possible to embrace the great outdoors and all that it has to offer. There are plenty of outdoor physical activities that are perfect for the winter season, and they can provide a wealth of physical and psychological benefits. Here are a few examples:
- Snowshoeing: Snowshoeing is a fun and low-impact way to get some exercise in the great outdoors. It's a great cardiovascular workout that can help improve your endurance, and it's also a great way to explore new trails and take in the beauty of the winter landscape. Plus, the fresh air and natural surroundings can do wonders for your mental well-being. Who knows, you might even gain a bit of appreciation for our dreaded winter season!
- Cross-country skiing: Cross-country skiing is another excellent way to get your heart rate up and burn some calories in the great outdoors. It's a full-body workout that can help improve your balance, coordination, and strength, and it's also a great way to enjoy the beauty of the winter landscape. Plus, the meditative rhythm of skiing can be very calming and restorative for the mind. Try renting equipment for an afternoon if you’ve never cross country skied before; Its surprisingly peaceful and a great cardio workout!
- Ice skating: Ice skating is a classic winter activity that's perfect for people of all ages and skill levels. It's a great cardio once you get the hang of it (if you’re a beginner) and can help improve your balance and coordination, and it's also a lot of fun! Plus, the cold air and natural surroundings can help boost your mood and energy levels.
- Sledding: Sledding might seem like a childhood activity, but it's actually a great way to get some exercise and have some fun in the great outdoors. Walking back up the hill can be quite the workout and can help improve your endurance and strength! Plus, the thrill of sledding can provide a much-needed boost of endorphins and help lift your mood.
Also, don't forget to stay hydrated! It can be easy to forget to drink water when it's cold out, but staying hydrated is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer, especially when exercising outdoors. Because you’re likely wearing multiple layers, it can be very easy to overheat slightly which will cause you to sweat - however because your layers are absorbing most of the sweat, you won’t notice it the same way you would on a hot summers day! Without noticing how much you are sweating, it can be very easy to forget to rehydrate your body! Overall, the key is to find an outdoor activity that you enjoy and that keeps you moving. Don't be afraid to try something new – you never know what you might end up loving! Just make sure to dress appropriately, stay hydrated, and protect yourself from the elements.
Finally, let's talk about diet. It's no secret that healthy eating is an important part of any fitness routine, as well as your overall well being. But in the winter, it can be tempting to indulge in comfort foods like hot cocoa and cookies. And while a little indulgence here and there is totally fine, it's important to keep an eye on your overall diet. Try to incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins into your meals to keep your energy levels up and your body running smoothly. Here’s a few basic nutritional tips and strategies for staying mentally and physically healthy during the winter months:
- Eat a balanced diet: Include a variety of nutrients in your meals, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of eating the same foods day in day out, especially when you’d rather do anything but scrape off your windshield and head to the grocery store, but not only will your body benefit from some variety in your diet - your brain will too!
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help keep your energy levels up and support cognitive function. During and after workouts, sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade can be beneficial since they contain electrolytes which help rehydrate you, since your body loses electrolytes such as sodium and potassium when you sweat! Opt for the low (or no) sugar versions of these drinks, since the regular options can contain up to 50 grams of sugar in a single bottle!
- Limit added sugars and processed foods: These types of foods or drinks can lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes, which can affect mood and energy levels. The initial “sugar rush” will wear off within half an hour leaving you feeling sluggish!
- Incorporate mood-boosting foods: Certain foods, such as fatty fish, nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and dark chocolate, can have a positive effect on mood.
- Plan ahead: If you have a busy schedule, it can be helpful to plan and prepare meals in advance to ensure you have healthy options available when you need them.
- Eat regular, balanced meals: Skipping meals or going too long without eating can lead to low energy and brain fog. On the flip side, a huge meal full of carbs will sometimes have the exact same effect!
- Consider supplements: If you're having difficulty getting all the nutrients you need from your diet, you may consider adding supplements, such as vitamin D or omega-3 fatty acids, to support mental health and energy.
Here are some specific meats, produce, and fish that may help boost moods and help fortify your body during winter, when most of us are vitamin D deficient:
- Chicken: High in protein
- Lean beef: High in iron, which is important for oxygen delivery to the brain
- Pork: High in protein and thiamin which aids in supporting cognitive ability
- Leafy greens: High in folate, which is important for brain function
- Berries: High in antioxidants, which may help protect the brain from damage
- Avocado: High in healthy fats
- Sweet potatoes: High in beta-carotene, which may also help improve cognitive function
- Salmon: High in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain health
- Tuna: High in omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, which are important for brain function
- Sardines: High in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, which are important for brain function (also amazing when included in homemade caesar salad dressing!)
Since these are general nutritional guidelines, remember to consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian for personalized nutrition recommendations based on individual allergies or food sensitivities!
Winter may bring colder temperatures and shorter days, but it doesn't have to mean a decline in physical fitness and mental health. By making small changes to our routines and diets, as well as finding activities that we enjoy, we can stay healthy and happy all season long. Whether it's trying out a new bodyweight workout, incorporating yoga or pilates into our fitness routine, or getting outside for some winter activities, there are plenty of ways to stay active and engaged. So don't let the winter blues get you down – embrace the season and find ways to maintain your physical fitness and mental health. Your body and mind will thank you for it!
This workout routine has been designed for general informational and educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding your health and fitness goals. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop immediately and consult your healthcare provider. The creator of this routine is not responsible for any injuries or adverse health effects that may result from the use of this information. Always consult your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise program.