Exercise and Time Change

Using Exercise to Cope with the Daylight Saving Time Change

daylight savings
Were you ready for an extra hour of sleep? With the falling temperatures and autumn in the air, we changed our clocks back last weekend to move from daylight saving time to standard time. This simple one-hour shift on Saturday night/Sunday morning was a bit like what happens when we fly from the East Coast to the West Coast – not as difficult to adjust to as when we fly from California to New York with its three hour jet lag, but a transition nevertheless. When you think of it, do you really take that extra hour of sleep or do you just enjoy lying in bed a bit longer, reading email and scanning the Internet?

The changing time pattern is most noticeable when we leave work and suddenly it looks like “it’s getting dark so early.” On the other hand, our biological clocks, the mood and energy centers in our brains, may enjoy waking up feeling more ready to go with more sunlight first thing in the day. That extra hour of sleep that we have available the first thing in November sure comes in handy right after Halloween and on to the more-party-less-sleep season of the holidays. The truth is the extra hour, if we truly take it, doesn’t last all holiday season and winter long.

Lack of sleep is more than just feeling tired; it actually changes levels of hormones in our bodies. When we party more at this time of the year and get less sleep, our adrenal glands go into overdrive and produce more cortisol, which increases stress, reduces muscle mass and related muscle strength, increases fat and weakens our immune system.

Additionally, as we sleep less, our pancreas works overtime, producing more insulin, which makes weight control at this time of the year, especially with those cupcakes, cookies and massive desserts being so much of a challenge. Remember that insulin causes sugar to store as fat.

Our basal metabolic rate (BMR) is impacted as well. This rate refers to the calories we burn while we are at rest. Metabolism is a chemical process that affects everything in your body. Anabolism, the way you use proteins to build muscles (you do have a protein shake after a good workout, right?) and catabolism, the way your body breaks down the food you eat into the fuel your body needs (proteins, fat and carbs) for building strength and fighting disease, are central parts of the three aspects of metabolism:
• Resting/awake, which comprises 60 percent of total daily caloric needs
• Eating/digesting making up five to 10 percent of caloric needs
• Exercising/moving, which makes up about 30 percent of caloric needs

Stress that’s chronic, that lasts for more than a short while, lowers our BMR as a result of unsettling our digestive system. Sleeping less due to more holiday stress and partying? That in turn adds to your stress, weight issues and even gives you the excuse that you are too tired to work out. It also decreases your BMR. See how it’s all related?

Think exercising the same amount you do all year long will help with stress, weight management and sleep? No. And worse yet, at this time of the year with shorter days, most people believe they have less time to exercise.

So, what to do as you set your clocks back to set your health and fitness forward?

• Get to sleep a bit earlier for a few nights to help you adjust, but don’t forget about winding down with some soft music, soft lighting and soft stretching.
• Consider over-the-counter sleep supplements with your doctor’s OK if the adjustment is challenging.
• Keep to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible. Try waking up about the same time every day, napping for 20-30 minutes or so when needed, and fighting off after-dinner drowsiness by being an active TV watcher (get on your Total Gym between commercials!). Also, stay away from big meals with rich, heavy foods, within two hours of bedtime.
• When it gets dark earlier, don’t use it as an excuse to call it a day – stick your workout routine in the most convenient time slot.
• Bedtime is for sleeping, not being kept awake by backlit screens on iPads, laptops and TVs. Use some deep breathing, meditation, visualization and muscle relaxation from head to toes to put you into the peaceful state needed for sleep.
• Remember that nutrition can disrupt your metabolism, so stay smart in your eating choices.

A few more tips for staying healthy with the time change

• Stress? What stress? An event is only stressful when you think it is. Focus on what can go right, not wrong. Exercise will also help you defuse the jitters, create a sense of calm, strip away self-doubt and help you watch your weight.
• Exercise increases BMR but keeping your muscles guessing is a key to firing up your metabolism, especially during the shorter days. Find ways to be naturally active during the daylight hours such as walks or parking further away from shops and work.
• You’ll need more motivation to take the time to exercise, so choose cardio, strength and flexibility activities each time you exercise to keep it varied and to boost your burn and motivate yourself.

Was this article helpful to you? Let us know in the comments!

Don’t forget to follow Total Gym Direct on Facebook and Twitter for great workouts ideas and healthy living ideas you can do!

Dr. Michael Mantell

Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has been providing psychological and coaching services for nearly 5 decades and continues to empower positive change among his global clients to enhance life in every way. He is a highly sought-after healthcare professional coach, an executive and team building consultant, and a longtime specialist in cognitive behavioral coaching.

Leave a Reply