10 Ways To Keep Exercise Motivation When It’s Cold Outside

Male runner running on a road alongside a rocky embankment. There is snow at the side of the road suggesting it is cold but he has still got the motivation to get outside and exercise.

The poet T.S. Eliot once wrote that April is the cruelest month, but those desperately trying to hit the gym when temperatures still hang in the negative numbers are sure to disagree with that assertion. As winter seemingly grinds on for what feels like forever, the temptation to remain in cosy robes and fuzzy bunny slippers grows stronger.

How can people keep their exercise goals high while the weather remains low?

Finding motivation while every strip mall parking lot sports dirty grey piles of snow does prove challenging. However, certain psychological tricks can help you keep up your fitness resolutions even in the most frightful of weather.

Try these 10 tips to avoid ditching your New Year’s resolution before the end of March rolls around.

1. Invest In Cute Gear

Hitting the gym proves a whole easier when you’re dying to show off your newest leggings, so go ahead and practice a bit of retail therapy to keep your motivation levels high. Whether or not you consider yourself a fashionista, we all feel better when we look our best. Give yourself a post-holiday gift in the form of to-die-for workout duds.

2. Layers, Layers And More Layers

We’ve all heard this advice, but that’s because it’s true — dress in layers when going out in cold weather. Create a base layer that whisks away sweat to avoid catching a chill when you interrupt your run for a walk break.

Runners and cyclists should start their workouts facing into the wind whenever possible. That way, ice-cold breezes won’t evaporate as much sweat, which can lead to catching a cold.

3. Try Something New

Winter offers the perfect time to try that new Pound class you’ve been meaning to do for months. If you can’t get outdoors for a brisk walk due to inclement weather or shorter days, try searching for new workout routines online. Many trainers recommend cross-training to maximize fitness benefits, so use this opportunity to work out muscles you may usually neglect in your exercise routine.

4. Take It Indoors

During recent winters, we’ve witnessed some of the lowest wind-chill factors in years in cities like Chicago. While some endurance athletes relish cooler temps, the fact remains that going out in certain weather may prove dangerous — and in some cases even deadly.

If you’re snowbound, seek out alternative exercise options, such as signing up for a fitness app that provides you with gym-quality workouts at home. Boost your heartbeat by running sprints up the basement stairs or putting on music and dancing around your comfortably-heated apartment.

5. Grab Your Partner

Canceling your workout poses more difficulty when you need to text a friend to tell them you can’t meet them for Zumba after all. Partner with a fitness-minded friend to improve accountability in your workout routine. Research indicates those who workout with a friend skip the gym far less often than solo exercisers.

6. Keep Track Of Your Steps

There are tons of devices out there to help you keep track of your daily step counts, and roughly 10 percent of the population use a monitoring device. Having a daily step goal can motivate you to get moving, even in the coldest months. The key to making a step monitor work for you is to make sure you’re wearing it every day.

7. Train For A Race

Competitive folks find motivation in reaching goals, so add a deadline to your exercise routine by training for a Tough Mudder or other race held at the beginning of spring. Knowing you have an end goal in mind helps you overcome the need to hit the snooze button.

8. Drink Plenty Of Water

Due to chillier winter climates, many people feel thirsty far less often. Be sure to sip water periodically throughout your workout and carry a reusable water bottle to remind yourself to hydrate all day long.

9. Get Creative

Ordinary objects can make for excellent free fitness tools. Use milk jugs filled with water or sand as hand weights. Use stairwells to sneak in some cardio and also tone your legs by doing calf raises.

10. Be Kind

Finally, avoid the urge to beat yourself up over one missed workout. You also shouldn’t force yourself to work out if you feel short of breath and feverish or are having other unusual symptoms. Exercising with a touch of the sniffles won’t likely do much harm, but forcing yourself to go for a run when you have a chest cold could lead to pneumonia.

Healthy All Year Through

Few of us outside of cross-country skiing enthusiasts relish working out in sub-zero temperatures, but staying fit requires year-round commitment. By exercising wisely, your cardiovascular capacity doesn’t have to fall as low as the wind chill factor.


Author Bio

Emily is a freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability. You can read her blog, Conservation Folks, for more of her work.

You can read another on Emily’s articles here.

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