Winter means colder temperatures, inclement weather, darker days and a natural urge to forgo regular exercise in favor of hot cocoa and the warmth of wood-burning stoves. But you don’t have to retreat from the change in season. With a few simple tips you can keep exercise a priority and avoid winter workout blues.
Make the Season Work for You
There are a number of outdoor activities in winter that you can’t do any other time of the year. Skiing, snow-shoeing, snowboarding or sledding are all unique forms of quality exercise to consider. Ice skating is also a popular and excellent way to burn more than 450 calories per hour, indoor or out. For a more intense workout, try running in the snow. You can also shed calories simply by playing outside. Get your heart rate up and have a laugh by making snow angels, building a snowman or challenging a friend to a snowball fight!
Set Reasonable Goals
Setting big and small goals in winter can help you find the motivation to exercise even on the coldest, darkest days. Create an overall goal that you then break down into smaller, achievable steps. If you’d like to run a 5K in the spring for example, start with shorter jogs in the winter months and increase your distance as the weather warms. If you’re really busy or just on a tight schedule, remember that you don’t have to set aside a huge chunk of time to exercise. You can set exercise over the course of the day. Exercising for shorter periods a few times each day can even be better for your heart rate variability.
Try Something New Indoors
Think of winter as an opportunity to do something you haven’t done before. Sign up for a new class at a gym or join an indoor sports team. There are many indoor sports like volleyball, basketball, soccer and racquetball that you may enjoy without having to go outside. A new activity may also help motivate you to stay active as well as teach you useful skills. Joining a team could be a great opportunity to make some new friends, too.
Motivate Yourself With New Workout Gear
If you plan to exercise outside, you need the right clothes. Acquiring new equipment can be a big motivation because you’ll want to use or wear what you buy. Some clothes that you feel great in will also help you avoid winter workout blues. Just make sure to cover your skin properly to keep out the cold and wind. Sweat-wicking layers will help keep your muscles warm. Dress for weather 25 degrees warmer than the actual temperature to compensate for the rise in body temperature when you run, and wear the right shoes to navigate slush, ice and snow.
If you’re just starting out on your exercise routine this winter, learn tips on how to start moving in “How to Get Back Into Exercising.”