As the days are getting darker and colder as we move into the winter months, you may find it challenging to stick to a regular workout routine. Whether you’re lacking motivation due to the seemingly constant darkness that accompanies the winter months or you have difficulty staying active when the cold weather hits, we have tips that can help you stay on track.
1) Find an activity that you enjoy
First and foremost, find an activity that you will enjoy doing. Whether you want to transition indoors or brave the cold and continue with outdoor activities, you need to be happy with your choice(s). It is way more challenging to stick with a workout routine if you don’t enjoy what you are doing. Find something you love and you will find yourself looking forward to being active!
2) Enjoy a variety of outdoor activities
Don’t let the cold weather stop you from enjoying the great outdoors. Feel invigorated by the cool air as you skate, ski, or even snowshoe. If you choose to exercise outdoors, be sure to dress for the weather. Layers are extremely important to keep you warm and dry, and you can always remove a layer if you get too warm. Your bottom layer, the layer closest to your body, should wick away moisture. If you choose a bottom layer that traps moisture instead of wicking it away, such as cotton, it will stay wet and make you feel cold. Your middle layers can be used as insulation to keep you warm. Finally, choose a top layer that will block wind and rain to keep you warm and dry. Other considerations include wearing insulated footwear to keep feet warm and wearing a hat to trap body heat because the majority of heat can be lost through the head.
3) Move your workouts indoors
If you’re like me and can’t stand the cold, there are many indoor exercise options to keep you busy through the winter months. Joining a gym is a great way to stick with your workout routine during the winter. You can either work independently, with a personal trainer, or participate in group fitness classes. If joining a gym isn’t feasible for you, many community centers offer free drop in fitness classes that you can attend. Check online or go to your local community center to see if they offer any fitness classes that interest you. Finally, you can find a local pool and swim indoors during the winter.
4) Set goals and stick to a plan
The best way to stay on track with your workout is to have a plan. We’ve talked about workout options during the winter, but it’s up to you to find the one(s) that work for you and figure out how to work them into your life. One of the easiest ways to do this is to set SMART goals. SMART goals should be:
Specific – What will you be doing?
Measurable – How often or how much will you do?
Action-oriented – Your goal should be something that you can act upon
Realistic – You should have a confidence level of at least 7/10 that you can meet your goal. If not, consider setting a smaller, more realistic goal
Time frame – When will you start? When will you assess if you met your goal?
For example, “Starting Monday, I will run 3 km 5 days per week and I will check back in 2 weeks to reassess and consider increasing my distance”.
Goal setting is a great way to stay motivated because it gives you something concrete to work towards. Do you plan on running a marathon next summer? Use the winter as training and set goals to help you prepare for the event. For more information on goal setting and reaching your health and fitness goals, read this blog post by Emilie.
It may be more difficult to stick to your routine as we transition into the winter months, but you can do it! What strategies do you use to stay motivated and exercise during the winter months? Let us know in the comments below!
Danielle Boudreau, MHSc candidate, Dietetic Intern
Dietetic Intern at Ryerson's Nutrition Communications Program