During winter it can be harder to keep motivated to exercise. I know I certainly find it more challenging. That little voice pops into your head and says things like “I really should go for a walk/to the gym/insert other exercise here/ but it’s so cold I just don’t want to get changed”.
Yes, cold nights and shorter days are the realities of winter. I’m not denying that it’s far less motivating to get changed into your exercise clothes when it’s dark, pouring with rain and the fire is going inside in comparison to a gorgeously warm day with blue skies and sunshine. But, the truth is if you want to be healthy and maintain your fitness, then ditching your trainers for slippers and the treadmill for the couch won’t get you there. An active lifestyle means being active 12 months a year, not six.
So how do you stay motivated? Well here’s a wee home truth. There are certainly some handy tips for keeping motivated to exercise in winter, which I’ll share with you. But the truth is, you don’t have to feel like doing something or be motivated to actually do it. How many mornings does your alarm go off and you think “I don’t feel like getting up yet”? Probably lots! But you do, because you know that you need to go to work, it’s expected that you’ll arrive on time, you’ve signed a contract to say you work certain hours, and plus you need to go to earn money. Well it’s kinda the same with exercise, but no one is going to fire you if you don’t do it!! You know you feel good when you exercise. You know it’s good for your body. You know you love how it makes you feel. You just have to commit to doing it, even though you don’t really feel like leaving the warm house! 99% of the time, the worst part is the thought of it.
So how do you get past that “I don’t want to” feeling and start doing it?
Here’s some tips on how to keep motivated to exercise in winter:
1. Think about how you can make exercise a priority
I had a bit of an aha moment listening to a speaker the other day. If we want to do something and it’s important to us, then we need to step past the reasons we are not doing it and make it a priority. I kind of knew that but it’s easy to let the “can’ts” get in the way sometimes, so I used it to help me with my exercise motivation.
It’s been in the back of my mind that I haven’t been as active as I would like for the past month or so, but I haven’t really been focused on solutions or making it a priority. Rather I’ve been just carrying on as is the past month. So I had a wee conversation with myself. The conversation goes like this “I want to exercise, but I’m not doing as much because of the weather, because my usual lunchtime exercise class has been cancelled over winter and because it’s dark when I get home from work so I don’t feel safe going for a walk”.
But these barriers are all things I can work through. So I said to myself, what can I do?? I have already been fitting in a few sessions a week, but for my mental wellbeing and physical health I really want to be doing at least four sessions. So, here’s my plan.
I’m going for a power walk at lunch time a couple of times a week and also in the weekend if the weather is good. My back up plan for bad weather is going to be casual gym sessions which is just down the road from work. I’m not a huge gym fan, but it will be a good backup for bad weather or after work sessions. I’m also looking into a Saturday yoga class. I have just got a band that tells me my steps each day so I can concentrate on increasing my incidental exercise and am using my weights at home 3 times a week for some resistance exercise. There we go – problem solved! Have a think about what’s stopping you doing exercise and some possible solutions so you can keep it a priority.
2. Don’t want to leave the house? Then don’t!
It’s a common misconception that physical activity has to be super hard or at a gym to count. It’s the act of moving that’s great for your health. You could do a huge clean of the house, or, if the thought of that isn’t enticing, crank up the stereo and do a circuit at home. One of my favourite ways to keep active at home is Nike Training Club. It’s free to download and there’s loads of great workouts, from high intensity to yoga. I haven’t used it much lately, but I have been using my weight set at home a few times each week. Move Love Eat has also shared a few at home workouts, including this awesome kettlebell workout.
3. Train for an event
If you like walking or running, then signing up for an event is a great motivator to keep active. In the years I’ve done half marathons/marathons, I’ve most definitely stuck to a very regular schedule of running! And I love it when I do it. The thought of not completing the event to my best ability is a huge motivator not to skip a day. If I wasn’t currently pregnant, I would probably be in training for a half marathon. I love running and I love the challenge of beating my last time – and it’s great for winter fitness.
4. Enlist a workout buddy
Working out with a friend means not only are you more commitment to attend, you get to hang with your buddy too. It’s a win-win and a great way to catch up at the same time.
5. Just do it.
Finally, take note of my point above. Just do it! You’ll feel great for it.
Do you have any good tips on how to keep motivated to exercise in winter?