Navigating a winter workout routine can undo even the most committed exerciser. When it’s cold and dark (and rainy, windy, and snowy) it can truly push motivation to its limits.
You’ve spent the summer and fall honing your workout routine, and you’re proud of it! You feel fit and healthy and – whether it’s a class at the gym or a post-work jog around your neighborhood – you’re good at committing to the task.
And then something happens. The weather gets chilly and it’s pitch black when you leave the office. Suddenly, you have intense cravings for the couch, a woolly blanket, and Netflix. Winter has arrived.
So, what can you do? You’ve worked far too hard to let this cold weather undo you!
Well, here are 10 motivational hacks to keep you running, lifting, and sweating all the way through to spring.
1. Go To Bed Early
Half the problem in getting up early to workout – in any season – is not getting enough sleep. When your body is dead tired how can you expect to have the motivation to jump out of bed? It may be cold outside those bed covers, but when you have enough sleep it’s far easier to find the motivation to get up and exercise.
A well-rested body is naturally more awake and alert. Getting a solid 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night will definitely help your winter morning cause.
2. Blinds Open
Leave your blinds or curtains open when you turn in for the night so that the rising sun can naturally wake you up. Light has an effect on our melatonin levels – the hormone responsible for telling us when to sleep and when to wake up. Melatonin makes us feel sleepy at night and it makes us feel awake in the morning. When the body senses light it shuts down melatonin production and signals other parts of the brain to help us to wake up.1
Winter can bring many cloudy, sunless mornings so you may also want to invest in a “natural-light” alarm clock. Instead of waking you up with a startling sound, it uses light to gradually wake you up over a period of about 30 minutes.
3. Social Media Inspiration
These days, with so many influencers across social media, you can follow any number of fitness gurus for some extra inspiration. Pick an influencer, or two, with their own inspiring story of weight loss and let them motivate you with their daily posts. It’s easy to get pulled down by social media when you’re feeling bad about yourself but following someone that is both motivational and “real” can have the opposite effect, and keep you on track.
4. The Small Gym Factor
If you sign up for a smaller, more personalized gym it’s true that everybody gets to know each other. Schedule yourself for the same classes each week, with the same instructor, and the same familiar faces.
Soon enough you’ll feel guilty for not turning up because everyone will notice you’re missing. You’ll also start to enjoy the camaraderie of working out with these new friends and acquaintances.
5. Have a Winter Workout Strategy
Just as you do with the rest of your life, schedule your winter workout in your calendar and adhere to these sessions like any appointment – i.e., they can’t be missed. It’s best to try to keep the exact same day and time each week so this appointment becomes a habit.
When the temperature drops, it will serve you well to schedule workouts for when you’re already away from your home.
When you leave work and it’s freezing cold and dark, going home to change into your workout gear pits you against the charms of a warm, cozy house.
So, take your gym bag to the office. Or, if you still like to run when it’s dark at 6 pm, consider changing into your fitness gear at work. Once you hit home you can get straight back out the door with no distractions.
6. The Winter Workout Mix Tape
It’s always a great idea to mix up exercise to keep things interesting, even in the warmer months. But in winter you’ll need to depend on this strategy even more so. The mundane is a motivational killer, so utilize variety as a great way to trick your body into getting excited about exercise.
If your aim is to exercise 5 times per week then make that more fun by dividing those 5 sessions into say, a run (outside or on a treadmill), a yoga class, a cycle class, a strength training class, and then your own free weights workout.
7. Have a Home Plan
Some days forging out into the winter weather just isn’t practical, or safe. But that doesn’t mean you give up on that winter workout!
Put a “home emergency plan” in place for those days when you will need to work out from home. Select a YouTube workout that can be done in your living room. Or, set up your own basic circuit of squats, lunges, planks, push-ups, dumbbell rows, jumping jacks and/or jump rope. Even just 20 minutes of this can be a good workout and will reap rewards far greater than the couch and track pants.
8. Join a Winter Workout Team
Ever thought about taking up a team sport? Winter may be a perfect time. Team sports are super motivating and can be a solution to pushing through those winter blues – you’ll let an entire team down if you don’t show up! Team sports are also a heap of fun and you rarely realize that you’re working out.
Some great team sports to get the heart rate moving include:
- Indoor soccer
Or if you live in the right environment why not join a cross-country skiing squad?
9. Set Up a Buddy System
As with a team setting, having a winter workout buddy is hugely motivating for the same reasons – you have someone holding you responsible. Find a friend, or a class buddy from the gym, and see if they’d be keen for you to hold each other accountable. That way, you can make sure that you both show up for classes.
Text each other before workouts to pump each other up, especially when you really don’t feel like exercising.
10. Personal Training
Finally, if you still need an extra motivational boost in those chilly months there’s nothing quite like a personal trainer to put the heat on. As the only person in the class, and with sessions costing far more than a group session, you certainly won’t be rolling back over in bed.
Lace Up Those Sneakers
Just as planning ahead can prevent you from falling into bad eating habits, it can keep you from being dragged into bad exercise habits. And, winter workouts most definitely need that extra line of defense! Don’t let the cold air freeze your goals. Start a plan for winter now that will keep those legs moving rain, hail, snow, or shine.