At last, we’ve made it through winter and into spring; the air is fresher, the temperatures are warmer, and there’s a sense of renewal all around.
As spring rolls in, it’s the perfect time to transition your workout routine into something suited to warmer weather (especially if you are not an outdoor winter enthusiast) and even try some new activities.
“There is a spring energy that can be harnessed,” says Ellen Barrett, creator of Ellen Barrett Mindful Movement. “Getting outside helps us tap into that energy, helps us get inspired and motivated to join in on movement.”
For Barrett, there are three keys to spring fitness.
- Get outside
- Aim to invigorate, not irritate: “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do anything too intense,” she says. “Ease in.”
- Take in the sights, smells, and sounds of spring
A great way to ease into your spring fitness routine is to go for a walk.
“One of the most important things you can do for your body is to simply walk,” says Montreal-based personal trainer Rachel MacPherson. “Walking, especially outdoors, has been shown to reduce stress and those that walk more have much better weight loss results. Walking also lowers your risk factors for things like diabetes and heart disease.”
If you want to kick it up a notch, you might want to take advantage of the milder temperatures and do a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout outside.
“If you are an advanced exerciser, try doing hill or flat ground sprints,” says MacPherson.
She recommends starting with 10-20 second sprints (you can work up to sprinting for 30 seconds), then walking for two to three minutes and repeating that cycle.
HIIT workouts typically last somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes, or four minutes if you’re doing a Tabata workout.
“This HIIT style training is fantastic for fat loss and improving your cardiovascular fitness,” MacPherson says.
As you know, spring can be a mixed bag of temperatures – we can have days that make us think we’ve reached summer and days that feel like we’re back in February. If you’re going outside to work out, make sure to put on sunscreen – whether it’s sunny or overcast – and waterproof jackets are always a good idea in case it rains.
“Make sure you dress in layers since it can still be chilly,” says MacPherson. “Wear a sweat-wicking layer next to your skin, then a fleece or wool layer and, finally, a wind and water-repellent layer. A headband that covers your ears from the cold and light gloves might also be a good idea, depending on temperatures.”
Barrett recommends a vest with pockets so you can keep essentials like your keys and phone on you when you’re outside. She also suggests trying lemon essential oil for a little spring aromatherapy. “I put a dab of lemon on each wrist,” she says. “Smelling it is refreshing.”
And if you feel like all of this is a little overwhelming because you’re coming out of hibernation right now, don’t worry – you’re not alone.
“Don’t beat yourself up for having a ‘lazy’ winter,” says Barrett. “Just look, so much of the wildlife outside your door has had a quiet, mellow winter. Everything wakes up in spring. Animals that were in hibernation are [now on] the move again. Trees that were dormant have started to bloom. We are just like those animals and trees!”
MacPherson adds, “The gloom of winter can take a big bite out of our motivation for working out and being active. … The improvement in weather and brighter, longer days mean that mood and energy levels often improve, and people are willing to get outside and rekindle their love of fitness!”
And remember, she says, “falling off the fitness wagon happens to the best of us (even personal trainers!), especially when the long dark days make us want to curl up watching Netflix all day. Use the season of new beginnings to spur a change in your activity levels!”