Summer is officially over and we are now firmly in autumn territory. September in particular tends to bring about noticeable changes in our schedules, as children go back to school, tourist numbers start to decline, and colleagues return from their trips abroad. All of these little changes, combined with worsening weather and shorter days can wreak havoc on our workout routines. But it is important to stay focused and motivated during this time, or you run the risk of falling into some bad habits. Here, we look at a few different ways you can stay fit and motivated throughout autumn.
Set Your Goal
In the run up to summer, the main priority for many of us is to ensure that we working towards achieving and maintaining our beach-bod. If you live in Ireland, then the likelihood is you won’t be spending too much time at the beach anytime soon, so autumn provides a good opportunity to focus on things other than weight management.
Think back on the exercise you have been doing over the past few months, and try to identify the areas in which you think you could make the most improvement. If you’d like to increase your endurance, then now may be the time to focus on aerobic exercise. If you have devoted your time to working on your “vanity muscles”, then switching your focus to strength training may be the best idea. If you play a lot of recreational sports, or sustained any injuries recently, then maybe stretches should be your priority. The good news is that these different forms of exercise can all easily be done at an indoor class or at home, so you can build a regimen that won’t be easily disrupted by the weather.
Autumn is also a time of year when a lot of our favourite shows return to the screens. When faced with the choice of going out into the cold, blustering darkness to exercise, or to hunker down and binge on the latest series of whatever it is you like to watch, most people will choose the latter. But even if you can’t resist following the latest exploits of President Underwood, you can still get some exercise done while you do.
Building on the examples in the previous entry, there are a lot of different exercises you can do in front of the TV depending on what it is you hope to achieve. Stretching is arguably the most compatible with TV watching, and you will be able to work out multiple parts of your body during a single episode of a show. Strength training is also easy to do without taking your eyes off the screen, with exercises like push-ups or free weight training enabling you to build strength without leaving your house. For aerobic exercises, rowing machines or exercise bikes are extremely popular choices, but don’t run out and buy any expensive machinery before you know you’re actually going to stick with your routine. Until then, exercises like running on the spot, jumping jacks, or squat jumps are great forms of indoor aerobics.
Deal with the Dark
As great as it is to have forms of indoor exercise, you will also get a lot done outdoors, so it is best to try and stop seeing darkness as a barrier to exercise. There are several points to be made with regards to this. The first and most important is that you need to make sure you can be seen. If you are just getting into exercising, you may feel that you don’t need reflective clothing, or flashing lights. But remember that they are not for you, they are for other people, and their eyesight may not be as good as yours. Furthermore, a common mistake newcomers make is failing to realise that, while it may not be dark when you leave, it could be by the time you come back. All smartphones these days will tell you exactly when sunset is on any given day, so plan ahead and don’t get caught out.
For some people, darkness is off-putting not because they can’t be seen, but because they can’t see what’s out there. If you’re worried about the dangers of working out early in the morning or at night, the best thing is to do so in a group. Regardless of where you live, you will never be the only person in your area devoted to working out, so find a group and stay together. Getting involved with other people will also help you stay motivated, and you’re likely to pick up a lot of tips and knowledge along the way.
Finally, darkness can be a barrier because it just isn’t appealing. If you have your alarm set for 6 or 7 AM, look and, and see that it is still pitch black, it can be easy to roll over and go back to sleep. Likewise if you return home from a long day of work or study, and see that the sun has already set. As tempting it is to use darkness as an excuse, you must resist the urge if you are going to make any progress. You need to push past this, and in a few weeks, you’ll find that you have gotten used to the realities of your new routine. Which brings us to our last point...
30 Day Rule
The first 30 days of a new routine are the most important. These are a pretty reliable indicator of whether you are going to stick with it or give it up. There are lots of reasons this can happen: a lot of people take on too much at once, and quickly become fatigued; others take on too little, and it easily trickles off into nothing; some feel that they have earned a bit of a break, but lose their momentum; Whatever the reason, the first 30 days are the biggest challenge, so push yourself to do whatever you can to make it past this milestone, and you’ll be much more likely to stick with your routine in the long run.