In the golden days of summer, extra time and beautiful weather fueled your long, outdoor workouts. But now summer’s heat has given way to autumn’s crisp air and the demands of the season bring up time constraints. Workplaces are abuzz with deadlines and projects. Parents are busy shuttling kids to school and to activities. Then there are the seemingly never-ending to-do lists. In autumn, time becomes a major priority for many people, and on some days, workouts just don’t make the cut.
Add to that the shorter days and the cooler weather. Maybe you find the crisp air uncomfortable for outdoor workouts, and the gyms are annoyingly crowded. Maybe you feel unmotivated and need a new routine, or you just don’t like to exercise alone.
Too busy, too cold, too crowded, lonely, unmotivated…these excuses can all be remedied.
We have a few tips to help shift your workout routine from summer to autumn with ease.
Wake up earlier.
Ideal for the person who is: unmotivated, crowd averse
Go to bed earlier so you can wake up earlier for a morning workout. Unmotivated individuals will benefit from knocking out a workout first thing. You’ll be less likely to have “something come up” in the afternoon to rationalize skipping an end-of-day workout.
Depending on where you live and what time you wake up, the gyms may be less crowded. This allows those who hate waiting for the 15 lbs. dumb bells (come on gym, buy another set!) to move easily and quickly between exercises. You’ll also have more personal space to try out new routines, for example doing a set of burpees on the ground in between sets on the lat pull-down machine.
Tips: It’s darker and cooler in the morning. Wearing light layers will keep you warm. You can peel off layers as your core body temperature rises. Make sure you hydrate; cooler temperatures can make you less able to recognize dehydration. Be sure to also wear reflective materials so passing cars can easily spot you. Look for outerwear with embedded reflective tape on the arms, legs, and torso areas. Don a headlamp or hold a flashlight. Even with your safety gear, try to workout in well-lit areas and run on well-traveled paths.
Squeeze in an afternoon run or walk.
Ideal for the person who is: busy, cold averse
The first few days of autumn can be confusing: they often begin crisp, but bright sunshine warms up the afternoons. Take advantage of any and all warm hours with lunchtime runs or walks. According to numerous studies, just 20 minutes of sunshine can lift your spirits and even change your mood (Poutas). Squeezing in a walk on your lunch break can help you return to work motivated and energized. Maybe you’ll even have enough energy to tackle that project you’ve been putting off.
Try High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
Ideal for the person who is: just plain busy
If you haven’t already tried HIIT, then you’re missing out. The idea is to perform sets of low to moderate intensity exercises in between sets of high intensity exercises. Each exercise is completed within a predetermined time period. For example a routine can be 30 seconds of push-ups then 30 seconds of star jumps, followed by 30 seconds of rest before repeating the sequence.
HIIT is perfect for busy individuals and a great supplement to longer workouts. It’s also highly customizable in terms of exercises and duration. Fitness trainers praise HIIT’s aerobic and anaerobic benefits. The short workouts encourage a participant to maintain an optimal heart rate range for the entire routine. During periods of moderate or low effort, you can do exercises that focus solely on strength training like push ups or squats. Then the higher intensity exercises push your aerobic abilities like mountain climbers or sprints. You’re getting a lot of bang in a short period of time.
Suggested Routine: Tony Horton, creator of P90X3, knows a thing or two for condensed, effective workouts. Try Tony’s 10-minute work out today! Also check out Tabata exercises for some ideas. Tabata is a form of HIIT where you’ll do eight rounds of a high intensity exercise for 20 seconds then rest for 10 seconds. So if you have four exercises, you’ll do each set for four minutes, spending a total time of 16 minutes working out. It’s a workout focused on quality over quantity.
Sign up for trial classes.
Ideal for the person who is: unmotivated, cold averse, social
Most gyms offer deals for trying out classes. Sign up for a class that piques your interest. There’s no harm in trying new things! Individuals stuck in stagnant routines may find a new favorite workout. If you don’t like working out in chilly air, then the warm indoor classes will be a perfect fit. If the class schedule doesn’t work with your schedule, consider attending a few classes then re-creating the exercises on your own. That way you’ll have a new routine on your terms.
Sign up for a race or join a team.
Ideal for the person who is: unmotivated, social, fond of the outdoors (in any weather)
If you’re just unmotivated, use commitment as a driving force to workout. Sign up for a race or join an intramural team. The training schedule and fellow teammates should offer some motivation to help you stay on course.
Suggested routine: Go from couch to 5K in four weeks with this training plan from New Balance.
Your workouts don’t have to fade away with summer. Stay healthy and strong with a few tweaks to your autumn schedule and routine. And remember to stay hydrated!
Source: Poutas, Vicky. “Tips for Finding Motivation When You’re Depressed.”