Winter has made her appearance. Layering is part of our dressing routine, the electric blankets are out, and fridges are stocked with stew and soup ingredients. But the difficulty of getting out of bed and going to the gym – my, oh, my – is a constant struggle. Sure, you are committed to your health but staying in bed for that extra hour, tucked under blankies, is just too tempting.
Even the most dedicated exercise enthusiasts struggle to keep their fitness routine in winter. In today’s article, we will be looking at different ‘strategies’ to implement to stick to your exercise routine even in times when the cold might keep you from it.
Seek the motivation from an exercise partner
Even in summer, finding an exercise partner who will keep you motivated is important. Someone who does not take no for an answer or who will not allow you to make excuses would be a natural choice. Training with a partner provides social support and could be a distraction from the cold weather. Even when exercising at home – join a live class rather than just a workout routine.
Motivate yourself just to get to the gym
Sometimes, that is the hardest thing – just to get to the gym (or in front of the computer for the online session). Once you are there, the problem is solved, and you will likely make the time at the gym worth your while – you are there, you might as well get the most of it!
Use the hours in your day differently
If the early, dark, cold mornings are not working for you, change your daily routine. Exercise during your lunch break, or have a working lunch and leave earlier to go to the gym before you go home. Or take a brisk walk during lunch – you will get some Vitamin D and fresh air as well. If it is raining, go to the nearest mall or shopping centre and take an indoor stroll (AND walk past all the SALE signs and the alluring smell of coffee and muffins…)
Focus on the other benefits you gain from exercising
Remind yourself of all the other benefits you gain from exercising – mental and emotional benefits. Remember, we discussed these in previous articles, how exercise releases endorphins which allows your mood to improve, and how it allows you to release stress and focus on your health for that one hour a day. That is motivation in itself.
Plan ahead and anticipate
Work with a plan and research the outdoor workouts in your area – park runs, hiking trails, family cycling fun days, and so on. Read your local newspaper and find out alternative ways to spend with family or friends outdoors – being active (other than those activities we love, some must – gather around the fire/kitchen to eat). You might even meet some interesting and fun people you would have never met.
Put your exercise clothes on at work
Putting on your exercise clothes at work will provide you with that extra motivation to actually stop at the gym and not go straight home. It will be more difficult for you to take off those exercise clothes without doing any exercise – even if you do a quick dance, stretch or HIIT training routine at home. At least you did some exercise, right?
Choose your morning alarm with a purpose
Choose your morning alarm with great purpose. Choose a song that will get your heart beating faster and which motivates you to get out of bed and NOT hit the snooze button. Also, try to change the song now and then so that you do not get used to the sound and sleep through it…
Use the right exercise gear
Dress for the occasion – remember that you will be cold at the start of your session and make sure that you are warm when you’re done. You need to be prepared for that, especially after your session – you have perspired and the cold outside might just hit you extra hard. You don’t want that. Protect yourself!
Use your surroundings to do cardio
Use your immediate surroundings to do your cardio exercises. It does not mean you have to break into a sweat throughout the day, but use the stairs as much as possible, and take a walking meeting with your colleagues (rather than sitting around a table). Use your bicycle to ‘run’ to the store instead of your vehicle or get up from the couch and change the channels of the television rather than use the remote control.
Keep drinking water
Even though it is winter, it does not mean that we must stop drinking water and only drink hot beverages, you need to keep your water intake the same as in summer. Don’t drink cold water, drink your water at room temperature if you wish. Or drink herbal tea without milk and sugar in a thermos.
No matter what – always stretch
No matter what option you choose – whether you choose to do home exercises, brisk walking during lunch or going to the gym – always, always stretch. Stretching before you start working out just puts your mind on what you are about to do. You ready your body for the routine and – most importantly – focus your mind on yourself. You might even use the time to empty your mind of the day’s stressors.
Break up your exercise routine into smaller time frames
If all else fails, break up your exercise routine into smaller time frames (4 x 15 minutes still gives you one hour of exercise a day). Think about a 15-minute yoga routine in the morning to wake up your body, three five minute stair-climbing exercises, 15 minutes when you get home (leg presses or arm curls come to mind) and a final 15-minute online dance class. Done! No fuss, just commitment.
Winter is no excuse to stop exercising – it is an opportunity to think of alternative ways to exercise and keep fit. Keep yourself motivated throughout the winter and try not to drop your fitness level. Just think – summer, and wearing those skinny jeans or floral maxi dress is just three months away…