Winter habit hacks to motivate you on even the coldest of days | HerCanberra

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Winter habit hacks to motivate you on even the coldest of days

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Already struggling to get out of your warm, comfy bed in the morning? Same.

Luckily Exercise Physiologist, owner of Capital Hydrotherapy and HerCanberra columnist Kirra Rankin has some habit hacks that will motivate you on mornings when the mercury is so low you can’t feel your toes.

Kirra’s Winter Habit Hacks

How do we overcome motivation barriers heading into winter when the habits haven’t been formed already?

How do we motivate ourselves from doing nothing, to doing something?

Associated Professor Amanda Rebar who is a psychologist and specialises in habit formation, motivation, decision making and behaviour change believes that motivation is “dynamic and context dependent”. Barriers and enablers to exercise are complex and fluid. We need to understand our barriers and adapt accordingly.

Research indicates that “most” people aren’t getting enough exercise. As a society, we aren’t hitting the physical activity guidelines and the environment is a big barrier. We are heading into winter, whether we like it or not, so let’s set up a plan to make regular exercise a habit (regular, as in most days of the week).

It doesn’t need to be hard and  painful – movement is supposed to help you, not hurt you. Your movement plan needs to be consistent, sustainable with small attainable and achievable goals.

We are setting up a habit. It needs to be meaningful.

So, let’s start small.  To get us off the couch, and out the door.  Potentially, over-simplifying is a motivator. Think: using low to moderate intensity exercise at the beginning (let’s get you to lace up those shoes first!) and build capacity for higher intensity in the latter stages.

Here are some helpful hacks to get you started:

The exercise needs to be meaningful and enjoyable

We need to build a positive experience, if we are going to lace up day in, day out. Let’s reframe our motivation to move; from “I have to exercise”  to “I get to move today”.

What movement makes you happy and experience joy? Is it being out in nature?  Is it working out with friends? Is it the post-exertion endorphin rush? Does it help your sleep quality? Does it help you focus for the next two hours?

“Meaningful” is very individual. Understanding what motivates you, and what your barriers are will help find your joy.

Write it down and reflect

Here’s a simple plan.

I’d recommend putting it somewhere visual (fridge or bathroom mirror) and highlight your session once you’ve completed it. One day at a time is the key.

There’s a reflection and motivation section, which is important for long-term adherence. Take one or two minutes to zoom out and understand YOUR bigger picture.

Have a flexible schedule (flip it)

Your plan needs to be fluid. If you have a big workday, “flip it”, and move your “planned” session to the next day.

Join a group and surround yourself with like-minded supportive people

Research indicates that group exercise has many benefits, both physiologically and emotionally. Those who feel more connected in their exercise class adhere to consistent sessions (which ultimately is where the physiological magic happens), they arrive on time, are less likely to drop out, are more resistant to disruption (and make fewer excuses) and are more likely to have greater mental benefits from the exercise.

At Capital Hydrotherapy, one group of supportive women pops into my mind. We’ve got a loyal tribe in our SUPER advanced HYDROLATES and Deep Water Running class who have been working out for years together. They have a WhatsApp group and keep each other accountable. They’re making happy, meaningful and consistent movement choice.


Be organised, get your gear and equipment ready!

A visual cue can be helpful. A Swiss ball in the dining room. A yoga mat in the study room. Get your running shoes and winter gear ready the night before (less chance of excuses!). Set yourself up for success…especially for those days that are harder.

Let’s be real, so we can develop some long-lasting habits.

If your movement habits haven’t already been formed, how will you overcome barriers heading into winter?

If you’re currently doing no formal movement plan – how will you motivate yourself this winter?

Love, Kirra.

Capital Hydrotherapy and Exercise Physiology is open for one-on-one Hydrotherapy, Aquatic Physiotherapy (and land-based Physio), land-based Exercise Physiology, small group therapy, and Hydrolates™ classes (Aquatic Pilates).

If you are injured, have a chronic health condition, or need a plan to improve your health and wellbeing—call us today 6156 2223!

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