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Don't let your exercise plans fall behind during Daylight Saving Time

November 18, 2014

It’s Daylight Saving Time again, when we reset our clocks and try to adjust to the time change!

Winter exercise motivation

"Even the most dedicated of exercise enthusiasts face challenges as the sunset approaches at 4:30 p.m.," said Peter Ouellette, DPT, MEd, OCS, Physical Therapist and Manager of Rehabilitation Services at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital. "I can’t eat like I did when I was cycling an average of 140 miles a week this summer. With the holidays quickly approaching my belt buckle is threatening to move up a notch. No more free passes!"

"If you’re an outdoor exerciser, you’ve probably already started to notice the sunset impinging on your evening workouts," said Ouellette. "Avoid the call of the couch and refrigerator as the cold and darkness settles us in to near hibernation. Fight the urge to surrender to the remote and start moving. Now is the time to make the switch to exercise in the mornings, watching the sun rise while on an early morning walk or bike ride."

"While many of us do continue to walk, run, and, yes, even bike during the colder weather as ice and snow permits, changing it up can also prove to be a fun, warmer and safer way to stay active for the next few months," Ouellette said.

Ouellette suggested joining a gym for the fall and winter months, because they are always well lite and a managed temperature. There are often classes like Zumba, spinning, cross fit, and weight training programs.

You can also try a winter sport like; skiing, skating, snowshoeing, and mountain biking.

How long should your workout be?

"We often think that to reap the benefits of exercise we have to do it for 60 minutes a day,” Ouellette said. "However, some research has found that short, intense bouts of exercise may be just as effective as longer workouts. So take the 20 min walk during lunch!"

Studies have shown that ten minute spurts of intense exercise that totaled 30 minutes were effective in lowering blood triglyceride levels.

If you don’t have time to fit in a full workout due to shortened daylight hours, there are two options.

  • Do shorter, more intense workouts
  • Do splits (one short workout in the morning and another in the evening)

Quick tips

"If you do decide to be active outdoors, it’s important to make sure you’re geared up for it," Ouellette cautioned. "A light, reflectors, and reflective clothing or tape on your bike helps ensure that cars see you and that you see the road and with today’s hi-tech clothing options you can be plenty warm and still look stylish."

Look for a headlamp that will illuminate your way if you do decide to keep trail running or hiking. As the cold sets in, make sure you’re still enjoying your workouts and outdoor sports by investing in the proper cold weather clothing and protective equipment.

Ouellette offered some other tips for keeping fit over the colder months

  • Try something new or different.
  • Team up with friends, families, and co-workers.
  • Set goals that get you through the holidays and prepare for your spring workouts.
  • Utilize social media apps like Strava or Charity Miles to provide motivation and challenges.
  • Train with mobile devices like the FitBit.
  • Above all, avoid the urge to hibernate, start moving today!
  • Take on some indoor projects that have been long neglected during the summer months.

"If you can swing it, by either negotiating with your boss or altering your schedule, working out in the midday is a great way to be outside during the warmest part of the day and not have to deal with the dark mornings and evenings," Ouellette said. "However we manage to fit it in, exercise is one of the most important components for good mood, attitude, and health during the shorter days and longer nights. And that will carry us through until next spring."