How to Kickstart Your Winter Workout

Stay motivated and keep moving even in the coldest of weather.


Health, Happiness

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Winter is one of the most magical times of the year…to get moving. There’s nothing like jogging through a quiet field of snow, watching the sunrise reflected throughout an icy landscape, or getting home after a winter workout, and treating yourself to a warm shower and hot cocoa. 

Winter workouts are invigorating and give us a boost of energy to get through winter’s cold, dark days. But, when you wake up in the morning for a pre-work gym session, before the sun rises, and feel the chilly air wafting through the window, it can be hard to follow through on an exercise commitment. Here are seven ways to keep that drive going throughout the cold months.

Workout with a group
According to TODAY, one way to stay motivated during the colder, darker months, is to work out with a group or a partner. This gives you social support and can help with making friends. When you exercise with a group, exercise psychologist Jack Raglin explains, flaking out is no longer an option. “I have to show up because they’re there, waiting for me,” says Raglin. 

Dress for the weather
The Guardian quotes British guidebook author and illustrator, Alfred Wainwright, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” When you are working out in the winter, especially if you are exercising outdoors, keep yourself bundled for the cold in warm layers. 

According to Everyday Health , your layers should be, not just warm, but dry. Look for synthetic fabrics that wick away sweat, and make sure the top layer keeps out the snow and rain. If you plan to exercise outside in the dark or in bad weather, where visibility is poorer, wear bright and reflective clothing for safety.

Don’t leave the house at all
Can’t muster the energy to leave the house at all, when it’s already dark at six PM? Revert to a home workout, suggests the Guardian. There are thousands of online videos and podcasts that can cater to any exercise level and interest. Even if you are accustomed to an outdoor workout, if for example you are training for a marathon, there are indoor workouts that complement any training. 

Personal trainer Geoff Walcott told The Guardian, “If you’re training for an outdoor race, for example a 5k or 10k, then you should be doing strength training as well,” something that you can accomplish from home.

Just make it to the gym
If you are committed to working out at the gym, and staying motivated is hard, change your goalposts, suggests TODAY. Give yourself the aim of just getting changed into your workout clothing and making it to the gym. Tell yourself, if you are too tired once you make it there, you can leave after a few minutes.

Usually, just getting there is more than half the battle, and once you make it to the gym, you will end up following through on your exercise commitments. Raglin shares, “Once you’re there, the problem is solved. You’re kind of committed to it. Once you’ve changed into your gear, once you’ve made the initial step, the rest of it is a lot easier.”

Track your training
The plethora of exercise tech can help with motivation, explains The Guardian. Using phone apps, or a fitbit, or even going low tech and marking your calendar in red pen can help you visualize how you’ve progressed thus far. Finding a system that lets you track your exercise achievements can give you the extra push to get you going when the going gets hard.

Change up your workout
Walcott says, “Variety is the key to enjoying exercise. Doing the same type of training can be demotivating.” Research shows that those who vary their workout routines are 20% likelier to enjoy the exercise session. Switching up your routine can give you a boost of motivation, and help keep winter workouts fun and enjoyable.

Think about how it will make you feel
TODAY reports that the long-term benefits of exercise are myriad. But, sometimes it’s hard to keep motivated by long-term gains that take a while to show up. The mental health boosts gleaned by working out are sorely needed when the weather changes, and show up right away. To keep your drive, focus on how getting moving can help with winter and holiday stress and stave off seasonal affective disorder. Raglin told TODAY, “Feel good about feeling good and feel good about doing something for yourself that we know has so many benefits that so many people need.

New Year's resolutions are a great opportunity to kickstart an exercise routine. Sure working out during the winter may be an uphill battle, but there are strategies to get us over the hill, and onto a healthier, happier new year. 

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