- Dr. Brittany Long
How to Exercise Despite Dreary Winter Weather
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Living in Portland, Oregon, it can be incredibly difficult to get out the door and workout outside - especially on those days when it feels like you're stepping out into a shower. I get it, no one likes to be wet and cold and it can be especially difficult to get yourself motivated when it's dark for what feels like all day. Despite the darkness, rain and cold temperatures though, getting out and moving your body every day is incredibly important - not only for your muscles, bones and cardiovascular system but also for your mental health(1)! More recently, new research is greatly encouraging exercise/movement to help improve symptoms of anxiety and depression as exercise not only helps to release endorphins (those feel-good hormones), but has also been shown to help to increase confidence, increase social interaction and help you find potentially a new way to manage and strengthen your mental health(2).
General guidelines of how much exercise we (as adults 18-64 years old) should achieve the following markers for weekly exercise:
150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week (21.5 minutes for 7 days or 30 minutes 5 days a week)
OR 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week(3–5).
Moderate-intensity exercise includes any type of activity that doesn’t really get your heart pumping or leave you a little short of breath such as leisurely walking.
Vigorous exercise includes any form of movement which leaves you a little short of breath and really gets your heart pumping such as running, cycling and swimming at a higher intensity.
Alongside cardiovascular exercise, it is also recommended to include at least 2 days a week of resistance training as means to stress the musculoskeletal system and help to build as strong of muscles and, ultimately, as strong of bones as possible(3–5).
BUT HOW DO I GET MOTIVATED?
Now you’ve heard more of the benefits of exercise and know just how much physical activity you should be getting but here comes the tricky part – how do you just encourage yourself to get out (or even stay in) and move your body? Here are a few ways to encourage yourself to get your motivation going and start getting in those 75-150 minutes of exercise per week:
· Make sure you have the right gear! If you’re going to be exercising outside in the winter that can mean either a light-wind breaker or a waterproof jacket as well as a hat. I would avoid water-proof shoes as water (and sweat) can get in but has nowhere to go afterward…gross right?
· Get an accountability buddy! Having someone start an exercise-kick with you is incredibly helpful. It can be a spouse, partner, child, sibling, co-worker, friend, etc. Pick a few days of the week that you will either get together and move or pick a time of day when you’ll check in on each other to make sure you’re hitting your goals.
· Consider signing up for a competition! One of the easiest ways to make sure you are going to continue to move your body daily is to sign up for a competition. For most, if you sign up for something and pay good money for it then it can help to keep you motivated to move daily so that come the day of the competition you are not cursing yourself for not exercising.
· If a competition isn’t your style then consider joining a rec league! In most larger cities there are a plethora of adult intermural leagues – basketball, soccer, volleyball, kickball, softball, the list is usually endless. This will not only encourage you to move your body at least one day a week but also potentially broaden your social sphere (if you’re looking for that) and maybe develop a new skill set!
IF YOU'RE FEELING A LITTLE DAUNTED START HERE:
Hopefully by now maybe you've got a little more pep in your step and are thinking it is time to start incorporating more exercise into your daily routine. If you are feeling a little more motivated and are ready to get started with a new exercise routine, but are a little daunted at the 75-150 minutes a week, one place I love to recommend people start with is the "Scientific 7-Minute Workout." This workout literally takes seven minutes to complete and gives you a multitude of cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and mental health benefits6. If you want to give the "Scientific 7-Minute Workout" a try, check out the original New York Times article or click here for a video to guide you!
*DISCLAIMER: This document is not intended to treat or diagnose disease. Before implementing any new treatment protocols be sure to consult with a licensed physician. The author has nothing to disclose in regards to supplements or products mentioned within this document and the author does not receive any monetary or other incentives to mention the recommended supplements or products.
1. Sharma A, Madaan V, Petty FD. Exercise for mental health . Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2006;8(2):106. doi:10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a
2. Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms - Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and- exercise/art-20046495. Accessed February 6, 2020.
3. American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids | American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness- basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults. Accessed February 6, 2020.
4. How much physical activity do adults need? | Physical Activity | CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm. Accessed February 6, 2020.
5. WHO | Physical Activity and Adults. https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_adults/en/. Accessed February 6, 2020.
6. The Scientific 7-Minute Workout - The New York Times. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-scientific-7-minute-workout/. Accessed February 6, 2020.