October has arrived with the usual pumpkin spice concoctions, color-changing leaves, and let’s not forget that even though swimsuit season is over… it’s now gray sweatpants season!
It’s almost time to bury our bodies under Pittsburgh parkas for the next six months, so why should we even bother staying active? According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can help to relieve stress by releasing endorphins (aka the body’s “feel good” hormones), increase self-confidence and lower symptoms of mild depression and anxiety. Fortunately there are some ways to stay disciplined with our activity:
Rethink your phone’s alarm tone.
Change your phone’s alarm to a song that will get your heart beating and make you want to sing. It’ll help you ignore the snooze button.
Pack your gym bag the night before regardless if it’s a morning or evening workout. Doing so will remove an excuse your brain may try and conjure. Shoes, clothes, water bottle, hair product, skin product and anything else to make you shine! Benjamin Franklin said it best: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Trick yourself into gym clothes.
If you’re going to be active in the morning, set your thermostat cooler at night and place your workout clothes near a heater so they are pre-heated and toasty warm. It’ll give you an incentive to get up and out of bed!
Schedule your workouts.
Life gets busy and blank space in our calendars quickly gets filled, so scheduling your workouts means you’re more likely to stay consistent. It doesn’t matter if it’s an actual gym class, a workout with a friend, or a solo workout: write it in the calendar.
If you’re planning an outdoor workout, check the weather for the week and pick the best day. No need to punish yourself!
Redefine what “active” means.
Activity doesn’t have to be confined to the gym. Indoor rock-climbing or dance classes are fun ways to get your heart racing. Autumn is also the perfect time to go for a Tinder hike (because everyone is into hiking!). Not interested in leaving the neighborhood? Try walking your furry friend or dancing (cautiously) while cooking.
Use the stairs.
Want to fill out those swimsuits in 9 months? Take the stairs and build your butt (bonus points for extra floors climbed)!
Join an organized event.
There are lots of races scheduled at this time of year. Some are for fun while others benefit local organizations. Many local LGBTQ sports leagues have indoor activities such as bowling or dodgeball. Sign up!
Create a friend challenge.
Most of us have smartphones and tracking devices so it is simple to set up a step challenge. If you’re even mildly competitive this just might be a great push, especially if you set prizes for the winner.
Focus on the mental health benefits.
If you’ve set goals for yourself such as losing weight or adding some muscle, it can be frustrating waiting for all your effort to pay off. Luckily, the mental health benefits are much faster-acting. Chances are you’ll feel better, more relaxed and less stressed (which will be very important at family gatherings!)
Don’t start a new exercise program on January 1.
You might be feeling guilty about all of the food over the last month. Gyms prey on this mindset and lock you into year-long contracts. Take small steps and start something new when it’s warm, perhaps before Pittsburgh weather conspires against you.
Enjoy gray sweatpants season!