As it gets colder, most of us just want to sit on the couch with a cup of tea.
If it’s raining and blowing outside, the last thing you want to do is brave the elements for some exercise.
Now a psychologist has revealed why, as new research has found that a fifth of adults see their exercise levels drop by up to 37% during the winter months.
Andreas Michaelides, head of psychology at Noom, said that for many, winter can upend our intentions, causing us to exercise less or change our eating habits.
“Whether it’s darkness, cold, stress or fatigue, there are many external factors that can influence our decision-making at this time of year.
“Data indicates that ‘hibernation mode’ activates for almost one in five of us, and we often lose motivation to maintain our routines from the summer months due to obstacles such as as weather and holidays.
“Recognizing the impact of these internal and external factors on you and your choices is just the first step to making truly informed decisions, allowing you to maintain a motivated mindset throughout the year.
“It’s also important to plan accordingly when you know you may encounter situations that prevent you from achieving your health goals.
“Adapt your routine by taking a walk on a treadmill instead of running outside or swapping your summer salad for a warming vegetable soup instead,” he says.
The research, commissioned by the Psychology-backed Behavior Change Programme, found that adults exercise an average of four times a week during the summer, but this drops during the colder months, with 31% less active than at any other time of the year.
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The poll surveyed 2,000 adults and found nearly three-quarters attribute the drop in activity to colder temperatures, with 57 per cent put off by dark mornings and evenings.
Others admitted to having more difficulty getting out of bed during the winter (49%), worrying about safety when exercising alone in the dark (27%) and having less energy (24%).
The spring and fall months were the most popular times of year to get in shape, with 49% wishing they could maintain the healthy mindset they adopt during the warmer months during the winters cold and dark.
And more than a third generally live a healthier lifestyle in the summer than in the winter.
The survey, carried out by OnePoll, also found that walking is the most common form of exercise enjoyed by Britons throughout the year.
Top 10 reasons Britons exercise less in winter
The study revealed the main reasons why Britons don’t want to exercise during the winter months.
- It is too cold
- It’s too dark
- It’s too wet
- You have trouble motivating yourself
- You worry about safety when exercising in the dark outdoors
- You have less energy
- You are more likely to pull a muscle or strain something due to cold weather
- Hibernation mode starts – you prefer to stay and watch TV
- You are less aware of your body in winter because you wear more layers
- Costs are higher in the winter due to running the heating, Christmas payment etc, so you want to save on the gym membership.
This was followed by running, cycling and bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups and pull-ups.
And 23% enjoy exercising “a lot”.
But winter is a season for indulgence, with 40% enjoying more food in December than at any other time of year, as temptations peak with Christmas parties and celebrations food oriented.
While 28 percent admitted they eat chocolate more frequently at this time of year.
More than one in five are also likely to order more takeout, and 28% consume more packets of biscuits during the winter.
Andreas added: “Fortunately, maintaining healthy habits during the winter doesn’t mean banishing your favorite foods or doing strenuous exercise, but rather incorporating small healthy habits here and there that will lead to long-term sustainable change. “
How to Keep Your Summer Motivated Through Winter
Noom trainer Brooke Marchand has revealed her top tips for staying on top of your exercise this winter.
Continue outdoor activities
Increasing your vitamin D intake is an effective way to manage mood swings and energy levels affected by winter weather.
A great way to increase these levels is to get outside as much as possible during the day and take advantage of natural sunlight – you only need about 20-30 minutes.
However, if you find it difficult to find time to walk during the shorter days, you can also get vitamin D from foods such as salmon, mushrooms, and milk (including soy milk ).
Explore new places
Make winter workouts interesting and exciting by exploring new locations, new formats, and new people to train with.
Take the time to research new trails or routes you’ve never taken before to change the scenery during a run or walk.
Encourage yourself to try new types of exercise, whether it’s yoga, running, or strength training to keep practices interesting.
Listen to summer music, all year round
We tend to curate summery, fun and upbeat playlists to get us in the mood for summer, but not winter.
Keep your feel-good music going all year round to ensure your motivation to get up and go is maintained through all seasons of the year.
Stick to established routines
Maintaining a regular routine throughout the year can be a very helpful way to maintain a positive mindset throughout the year.
Not only does this help you cement long-lasting healthy habits, but it will have a particularly positive impact on your sleep.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time has been proven to improve sleep quality.
People who tend to struggle with their mood during the winter months also have trouble sleeping and often have trouble getting up in the morning. The two are intrinsically linked.
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