This time of year, a lot of folks are throwing themselves into a new workout routine, but what if that “New Year, new you” thing isn’t enough to get you ready to sweat it out? It can be a struggle to find the motivation to exercise any time, but during the cold, short days of winter? We’d rather stay cozy and warm on the couch with Netflix. Physical therapist Erika Mundinger gets it and shares this advice to get us ready to move, even when we’re not feeling it.
- This is your brain on the couch – It turns out, sitting all day and not interacting with people while we work from home can affect our brain chemistry. “We’re not getting serotonin and dopamine and oxytocin through our brain tissue, so it’s kind of like blowing our emotional reward endorphin system,” Mundinger explains. But when we exercise, it gets those feel-good hormones flowing and the best part? It doesn’t have to be a marathon workout to work.
- Get on the floor – Something as low-key as some floor stretches can release those hormones and help move “that sludgy lymphatic fluid” out, and that promotes a healthy immune system.
- Go play – You may not feel like going for a run outside in January, but what about building a snowman or going ice skating? Mundinger says it’s all about moving your body and getting your heart rate up and if you can do it with a fun activity that makes you feel good? Even better.
- Bribe yourself – Use things you want and enjoy to motivate yourself to get moving and as long as you’re making healthy food choices most of the time, even snacks and treats make good rewards.
- Make it a social event – Mask up and visit with a friend during a distanced walk, or grab your phone and call someone along the walk. You can also try a Zoom group-fitness class – you can find anything from yoga to HIIT – to connect with friends.
- “Nothing happens until something moves” – Mundinger says this quote from Einstein applies to exercise, too. So if you don’t know where to start or a workout feels like too much, start with a lap around the house or a walk and you’ll get the feel-good benefits and maybe it’ll spark you to do more tomorrow. The key, she says, is to just start.