Are you dreading the cooler months and a decrease in daylight? If so, you aren’t alone. A recent headline states, “Millions of Adults ‘Dreading’ Winter Months Because They Will Exercise Less.” Another headline reads, “Desire to Exercise ‘Can Drop by a Third in Winter.’” Though summer may be over and fall and winter are coming soon, there is no reason to stop doing the activities you love. You just have to be a little more strategic about what you do and when you do them.
We also know that less daylight equals more of a desire to stay inside and that the early darkness and cold temperatures can leave you desiring only to huddle under your blanket or comforter with no motivation to go outside. But a little sunlight every day is crucial for your mental health, even in cold temperatures. According to WebMD, “Scientists think 5 to 15 minutes—up to 30 if you’re dark-skinned—is about right to get the most out of it without causing any health problems.”
Among the benefits the article mentions is an increase in vitamin D and possibly the ability to lose weight. Morning light is important because it helps “keep the fat off.” The article continues, “You need 20 to 30 minutes between 8 a.m. and noon to make a difference, but the earlier you get it, the better it seems to work. Scientists think the sun’s rays may shrink fat cells below your skin’s surface.”
That is something we can all get excited about!
Sunlight also helps your emotional well-being by boosting serotonin. This increases your energy and helps keep you positive, calmer, and more focused. These benefits are especially important for people with seasonal affective disorder—a type of seasonal depression brought upon by a decrease in sunlight.
We know that it can be difficult to get and stay motivated to exercise outside in the fall and winter, so we have compiled a list of fun activities that will get you some sun, some fresh air, and some exercise.
As we said above, we must learn to use the daylight strategically. That means that if you’re stuck in the office all day, you can do things like adapt your schedule and eat your lunch outside. Or maybe you eat your lunch at your desk while working and then take a lunch break outside and walk around a park. You can also take advantage of work breaks and get outside in the sun. Lots of office buildings have sidewalks or walking paths nearby. Even just a 10-15-minute walk around the parking lot will lighten your mood and get the blood flowing.
If possible, wake up a little earlier to walk around your block before work.
On weekends or before the sun sets in the evenings, force yourself to spend time outside. To help motivate you to keep up your activity level and get the sunlight you need, we have created a list of 10 awesome fall activities that you can do with your friends, your family, or even alone. So choose a few that you like and get outside and enjoy the cooler weather!
1) Go for a hike.
A lot of people prefer to hike in cooler temperatures. Plus, you get the added benefit of seeing beautiful fall colors. But remember to stay hydrated. And take along PI’s protein water and cookies or bars for a healthy snack.
2) Go on a hayride or wander through a corn maze.
This is a great fall activity and can be lots of fun to try to find your way out of a maze.
3) Play Pickleball.
We explain all about this exciting sport in our blog.
4) Pick apples.
Not only is this fun, but you get nutritious and delicious apples for your fall desserts or a healthy snack!
5) Go for a bike ride.
While biking is great any time of the year, it can be especially fun when the weather is cooler and you can smell the fall scents in the air.
6) Rake leaves and jump in the pile.
Not only do you get yardwork done, but you—and your family—can have fun while doing it.
7) Play miniature golf.
A little healthy competition is fun, especially when friends or kids are involved. Miniature golf allows you to walk a bit and to get some sun and some family time.
8) Gather your friends or family and play touch football outside.
This is great exercise and endless fun!
9) Take the kids on a leaf hunt and see how many leaves you can find outside.
Turn a learning experience into a fun activity by taking a walk and picking up those beautiful fall leaves. Then get a leaf identification app and see how many different kinds you found. Or make it a competition and see who can find the most.
10) Take up skiing.
This is a great activity for individuals or for families, and it will definitely get your heart pumping!
There really is a lot you can do outside when the weather grows cold. Use some of these ideas to get and stay motivated so that you can enjoy the treats when Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas come along. We want you to be able to enjoy these holidays without worrying about adding extra weight.
Remember, when you exercise regularly, you not only feel good, but you feel good about yourself.