Daylight savings time fitness tips

It’s that time of year again, when we set the clocks back an hour. And while I love getting that extra wink initially, there’s always a sense of dread knowing that the days ahead will gradually get darker earlier. That, plus colder conditions ahead, can easily dampen motivation to stay active.

While it may be tempting to set your mental clock on hibernation mode until the warmer weather and sunshine-filled days return, hitting the snooze button on your healthy habits will only make you feel worse in the long run. Another reason to find a way to find a winter exercise routine that works for you: It’s a mood booster and can help ease symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

Here are some ways to start your winter routine:

There is a lot of truth behind Benjamin Franklin’s old saying, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, rich and wise.” When you are well rested, you are more energized to achieve your daily goals. This philosophy also extends to your aerobic ambitions. We’re all guilty of marathon-watching a Netflix series, or losing time scrolling through social media, but regardless of what’s keeping you awake, one thing’s for sure: Burning the midnight oil makes it harder to waking up the next day. And when your alarm goes off, it’s tempting to catch up on that extra hour of lost sleep instead of waking up and exercising.

But by controlling evening distractions, you’ll not only get to sleep at a reasonable time, you’ll have better quality sleep. Here’s how:

  • Choose a time each night that ensures you get about eight hours of sleep. Deduct an hour and a half for personal time. So if you want to sleep by 23:00, your personal time will start at 21:30. After an hour is up, turn off your screens. Lie in bed for the remaining half hour, imagine a relaxing thought and mentally go to a peaceful place. This allows time for the brain to settle down and slip into a healthy slumber.

  • Using electronic devices just before bed is a habit worth trying to break. But if it’s unavoidable, adjust your screen to a dimmer setting. This will help reduce the stimulating effects of blue light, which has been shown to reduce the production of melatonin – the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle.

  • When it’s time to sleep, move your phone across the room to prevent any bright lights from notifications or alerts from disturbing your sleep.

If you regularly work 9 to 5 hours, chances are the sun has already set by the time you return home. Not exactly a workout-inspiring environment after a long day. However, one benefit associated with daylight saving time is the gift of more morning sunlight, which can make early workouts easier.

The body craves vitamin D. But as we spend more time indoors during the winter months, it’s common to be deficient in this essential nutrient. Just 15 minutes of daily sun exposure can improve bone health, lower blood pressure and boost mental health. Use this extra morning sunshine to start your day on a fit foot. Aim for a brisk 20-minute walk, five days a week.

Not everyone is a self-starter. Finding and maintaining fitness motivation can be challenging, especially when the weather is dreary and cold. But one of your best allies in increasing exercise program adherence is staying fit with a friend.

If you know there is someone counting on you to meet at a set time to work out, you are much less likely to cancel plans than if you work out alone. Spending quality time together while exercising also promotes a sense of well-being, as bonding with friends or family over a common goal, such as good health, can make you feel less stressed, happier and supported.

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