12 Ways to Stay Motivated and Keep Exercising in Winter Months

There is no doubt that mustering up the motivation to exercise during winter is harder than in warmer months when we have the fresh vitality of spring to inspire us. The freezing temperatures, cold, damp weather, and ensuing darkness that seems to arrive earlier every day in winter aren’t exactly inviting when it comes to working out. So what can we do to stay motivated to keep exercising during winter? Let’s explore 12 novel ways to excite and inspire you to get moving even in the chilly weather.

Key takeaways:

12 ways to keep that exercise motivation through winter

Staying motivated to exercise in winter is a real challenge for many of us. The blankets and sofa definitely look more inviting than going for a jog in a blizzard. A movie night does sound more alluring than venturing into the icy weather to get to an evening session at the gym.

But we don't even have to brave the cold outdoors to hit our winter fitness goals — we just need to get a little more creative. Here are 12 of our favorite winter motivation hacks to keep you inspired to stay active despite the chilly weather.

1. Keep warm

This might sound completely obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people fail to layer up when the cold sets in. Ensuring you have layering options makes a huge difference to the time you are able to work out, especially if you are exercising outdoors. Keeping your muscles warm will also help to prevent that achy, stiff sensation that can set in when we aren’t warm enough.

Top Tip
Don’t go for thick woolen sweaters and huge jackets; think about light thermal layers that you can take off and put back on as your body temperature changes. Perhaps invest in a lightweight snood to keep your neck toasty.

2. Make sure you actually enjoy the exercise

For example, if you know you don’t like jogging, perhaps starting a new running regimen mid-winter isn’t the smartest idea. Staying motivated is hard enough, even without the cold weather trying to throw us off track, so make sure you are doing a type of exercise that’s actually fun for you. It may be harder to leave your cozy bed to get to a fitness class or to jog through your park, but you should finish your exercise feeling great, not drained, and like you wish you hadn’t bothered.

Top Tip
Pick classes and workouts that make you feel excited, not ones you have to drag yourself out to.

3. Switch to at-home workouts

If peeling yourself out of your warm bed to get out into the cold to hit the gym is too difficult, then make it easier on yourself and switch it up to at-home workouts. That way, you can exercise in the comfort and warmth of your home and not worry about the biting cold bringing your motivation down.

Top Tip
Try new workouts to keep the inspiration and motivation fresh. Perhaps plan a week of different online classes and see which you like best.

4. Workout with a friend or in a group

It can be so hard to stay motivated when it’s just you running the treadmill or exercising in a park alone. Having someone else to do it with not only makes the whole experience more fun, but it holds you accountable, meaning you are more likely to actually show up and work out.

Top Tip
Set goals with your friend or group. Set yourself target weights, times, reps, and distances to aim for each week, and have your friend keep count.

5. Add your workouts to a calendar and set reminders

Jotting it down in our diary, with email and mobile notifications, is a great way to ensure we are carving out the time to exercise. If it’s scheduled into your day, you are much more likely to do it than if you just decide what time and when you’ll work out randomly.

Top Tip
Set a reminder for 30 minutes before your scheduled exercise time to make sure you can do any last prep, like make smoothies, pack your gym kit, or set up your workout station.

6. Try a new class to build your exercise excitement

It’s much easier to get bored of the same old exercise routines in winter. There is something about a chilly, gray day that just feels less inspiring. In order to get around this issue of inspiration, use winter as the time to try out new classes. Always wanted to go to hot yoga? Now is the perfect time. The novelty will give you something to look forward to and new experiences can be so rewarding to our minds, bodies, and spirits.

Top Tip
Make sure you pick classes that you are genuinely intrigued by and haven’t experienced before. Never been to Zumba? Give it a go!

7. Pick a fun winter sport to try

Despite being colder and generally less inspiring than the vibrancy of spring and summer, winter gives us the opportunity to try out new sports that we just can’t do so easily in the warmer months. Ice rinks tend to pop up at big winter events in larger towns — why not get out on the ice and learn a new skill? If you get snow where you are, perhaps try sledding down some local slopes or go for a trail run.

Top Tip
If you are trying out a new winter sport, think about getting some instruction from a qualified trainer. Learning the basics from a professional can make all the difference.

8. Make healthy warming foods

Winter is not the time for cold salads and iced smoothies. In fact, cold food can almost feel like a punishment when it’s freezing outside. Task yourself with making lots of warm, delicious, and nutritious meals like soups and stew filled with flavor.

Top Tip
Batch-make healthy stews and freeze them in portions ready to heat up when you get back from a winter workout.

9. Recovery and self-care

Anyone who’s ever done a workout will be familiar with the sore muscles that arrive in the days after. The cold can make our bodies more prone to aches and tension, so make sure you get proper rest between workouts rather than pushing through the pain. Hot baths after a cold jog around the block or warming up some massage oil after a gym session to work into your muscles are excellent for recovery. Additionally, spending that little bit of extra time indulging in self-care can keep your mood elevated, which is especially needed during the ‘winter blues’ months.

Top Tip
Try mixing a couple of drops of lavender and chamomile essential oils with a carrier oil to make a soothing and calming scented oil rub for sore muscles.

10. Make a new playlist

Many regular exercisers credit a brilliant playlist with helping them stay motivated during exercise. Music can help shift our emotional state, get us amped up for a movement session, and help us keep going through the toughest parts of a workout. Having your favorite tunes blasting will also help you focus on something other than the cold or how fatigued you might feel.

Top Tip
This playlist is just for you, so put all your best tracks on there, even those secret cringe ones that you'd never confess to liking!

11. Make manageable commitments

There are no medals for pushing beyond your limits — in fact, it's a practice that can often lead to injury. If you want to make sure you are getting some exercise each day, don’t make a huge goal that’s difficult to stick to. When motivation feels lower through the winter months, and exercise becomes too much of a chore, it’s easy to get downtrodden and give up altogether. But committing to just ten minutes each day can make all the difference to your well-being and bring a sense of accomplishment.

Top Tip
There are so many different simple and free 10-minute workouts online — just pop that into your search engine and pick one that stands out.

12. Reward yourself

We are much more likely to continue with a certain behavior if we are rewarded for it. So make sure to celebrate your winter workout successes with little treats and treasures that make you feel good. Reward milestones with massages, a spa day, a new fitness tracker, or new workout gear.

Top Tip
Set aside a special reward day in your calendar, plan it, and set a reminder to treat yourself properly for everything you’ve achieved.

Exercising in the colder months is definitely harder due to the plunging temperatures and somewhat uninspiring weather, but that needn't stop you from getting active. In fact, you can utilize winter to get more creative with your fitness inspiration, try out some new classes, and maybe even treat yourself to some new thermal workout gear to help you stay motivated on your winter fitness journey.

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