Shorter winter days mean less sunlight and for many, less motivation to find time to work out. Megan Spurling, manager of Sharp HealthCare’s employee wellness program, Sharp Best Health, tells us why we should push these four common excuses out the door.
Excuse #1: Running after the sun goes down seems dangerous.
Spurling shares her four easy tips on working out after it gets dark:
- Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing to make yourself more visible to drivers and others on the road.
- Know your surroundings — if you want to run or bike in an area known for uneven pavement, consider changing your location. This requires planning, but will be worth it when you are able to finish your workout safely.
- Bike with traffic and run against traffic. This applies to all times of the day. Running against the flow of traffic allows you to watch everything coming your way — cars, buses and bikes.
- Plan to work out with a buddy for motivation, accountability and safety while exercising at night.
Excuse #2: Working out late makes it harder to go to sleep.
Spurling shuts down that excuse. “In general, exercise will not only help improve your sleep, but will also make you more alert during the day. As far as working out close to bedtime and sleep, it varies from person to person. A good rule of thumb is to not work out within the three hours before your bed time. If you are pressed for time, experimenting with the timing of your workouts closer to bedtime might be worthwhile.”
Excuse #3: Your schedule varies day-to-day.
Being flexible with your workout routine is the solution to an ever-changing schedule. “For some people, not being able to make it to the gym is their excuse for skipping a workout, but what about a home workout?” says Spurling.
According to Spurling, having a variety of exercise routines in your arsenal is much better for your fitness than doing the same thing over and over. “By thinking outside of the box and not having only one way to exercise, you will always find an option that works in your schedule during this busy time of year,” she adds.
Going to be out of town or visiting family this holiday season? “Make a plan with friends or family to exercise together,” says Spurling. “No matter where you are working out, you will be able to catch up with people you care about — meaning multi-tasking — and the accountability of someone depending on you will ensure you will meet your workout goals.”
Excuse #4: You don’t have a full hour to work out every day.
According to Spurling, you do not need a full hour to make a difference. “Remember that even small actions count,” says Spurling. “Even 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes after work can add up to a solid, effective workout.”
Something that Spurling suggests to help stay accountable throughout the day is a wearable fitness tracker. “Before I used my activity tracker, I never realized how little I moved after my morning workout and how that affected my energy level. Having an easy-to-read, little gadget telling me how many steps I’ve taken each day motivates me to get up and move more throughout the day.”
If you have 30 minutes or less for a devoted workout, that is still plenty of time to exercise your whole body as long as “you make the minutes count,” Spurling emphasizes. “The best workouts on a short amount of time are usually circuit training formats, which get your heart rate up while also strengthening muscle.”
Some Favorites for Circuit Training Exercises:
- Jumping jacks or jumping rope
- Wall sits or squats
- Planks (see Anatomy of the Perfect Plank)
Looking for a class to jump-start your fitness routine? Sharp HealthCare offers a range of classes throughout San Diego County.