Cold temperatures, grey days and limited daylight hours can make it more challenging to maintain regular workouts during the winter. Let’s face it – it’s much easier when it’s warm, sunny and inviting to throw on shorts and a T-shirt and head outside for a run, bike ride or hiking session. Exercise outdoors – or even at the gym – can seem like a bigger effort during the winter, even from just bundling up as preparation.
Winter gloom can affect your body’s rhythms, mood and behavior, from carbo-loading, hibernating at home in PJs, lethargic couch sessions and mindless game-playing on your phone. Exercise is just the antidote to this tendency toward persistent sluggishness. While it may require some extra motivation, being consistent with workouts during the dreary winter days is definitely possible. Whether you exercise at home or at the gym, here are top tips for staying motivated for winter workouts.
- Make a schedule – Pick your workout times for the week, and set them in your calendar just like any other appointment. Honor these commitments and don’t schedule other activities during these times. Block out this time for your health, and your body and mind will benefit.
- Plan ahead – It’s much easier to get out of bed on cold winter mornings if you lay out all your gear or pack your gym bag the night before and don’t have to scramble around in the dark looking for your heart rate monitor or ear buds. Put everything you need in one place, get up and dressed, and get going. If you’re working out during lunch or after work, place your gym bag next to the door or in your car. No excuses!
- Try something new – Taking on a new yoga class or signing up for personal training can boost motivation and adherence, especially when you are paying for these activities. Even if you simply rework your strength training routine, incorporate a new cardio machine, or buy a foam roller to use at home, novelty boosts interest and commitment.
- Go outside periodically – Of course, if wind chills are dangerous or the sidewalks are icy, stay indoors. But capitalize on sunny, milder winter days when possible to take advantage of fresh air and a change of scenery. Dress in layers for the weather and head out during daylight for an invigorating brisk walk or jog.
- Find a partner – Working out with someone else makes you accountable and is more enjoyable. You’re less likely to hit the snooze button in the morning or the drive-through after work if you know that your spouse, friend, sister or neighbor is counting on you for a sweat session.
- Set a goal – Having something to work toward during the winter months is a great way to keep yourself moving. Maybe you are aiming to 10 pounds by March, or want to train for a 10K in May, or simply are focusing on 3-4 workouts per week. Write down your goal where you can see it often – and remind yourself on the days where you feel like skipping a session.
- Practice flexibility – If your boss calls an early morning meeting, or the kids need rides after school, and your workout will be derailed, then don’t just quit. Rearrange your schedule as you can to squeeze in a shorter session at home if you don’t have time to go to the gym, do calisthenics for 10 minutes at a time to get your blood pumping or go for a brisk walk at lunchtime. If absolutely necessary, reschedule your workout for the next day. Just do something!