It’s winter; the time of year when workout motivation often takes a massive slide, and throwing on your activewear and getting psyched for a workout is just that little bit harder. The days are colder and darker, and most people I have spoken to lately seem equally content as I to huddle under multiple layers and stay that way.
That said, we all know the benefits of regular exercise – and some could argue that working out is more important over winter than in the warmer months. We are less active overall and delicious, hearty winter food tends to be more calorie-dense, plus people tend to be less concerned about what their abs look like when bathers are not an option!
So – how do you keep at least some momentum and exercise when you just don’t feel like exercising? How do you get through winter and maintain a healthy weight and some semblance of strength and fitness?
Here are 10 ways to keep keep your workout motivation kicking over winter.
Go for a walk, ride or roll
Getting out for a walk is one of the best ways to shake off the winter funk and get some fresh air and sunlight. Just 20 minutes at a brisk pace is enough to get the blood pumping and your cardio capacity heading in the right direction. Rope the family into a day out hiking or try geocaching; just pack the umbrella, pull on your coat and head out for the day.
Bike riding is another fantastic way to get out and about, so try taking a spin around your local area or packing up your wheels to explore new sights. The bush is so beautiful at this time of year too, so consider seeking out some off-road tracks for a fun day out.
Being outdoors is not only a great way to get some movement in your day and positively affect you physically, but sunlight and fresh air are important for good mental health. Adequate daylight helps set your circadian rhythm and promote better sleeping patterns – and great sleep often goes hand in hand with a better mood.
Exercise does not need to be boring! If you have kids, playing with them can be a wonderful way to get everybody off their butts – and as a bonus can be a lovely way to connect as a family. Head to the local park and instead of sitting on the sidelines, challenge the kids to an obstacle course or time each other on the monkey bars. Chasey, tag or ‘the floor is lava’ are also favourites!
If monkey bars, cargo nets and flying foxes aren’t your thing, how about a game of cricket or tennis? Or a visit to the local indoor pool for a splash? Forget being an adult for a little while!
For those with fur babies – the same applies (although your kid may not quite be up to monkey bars!). Chasey, throwing a ball and a bit of rough banter get the tails wagging and the heart rates up.
Do a quick workout in front of the TV
When the weather is unappealing and a home workout sounds boring, set yourself up in front of the TV and get a little training done there. You don’t need to get too caught up in perfecting your moves; pick a few simple exercises you know well and put them together. Set a timer and just keep moving for 10-20 minutes.
- 50 butt kicks or high knees
- 10 squats
- 10 pushups
- 10 plank rotations
- 10 situps
- 16 lunges
- 14 burpees
- 12 situps
- 10 walkout pushups
Try something new
Repeatedly doing the same exercises can get pretty uninspiring, so shake up your usual routine and try something new. Whether that is a sport such as boxing, karate or footy, a casual game of badminton or soccer, or learning a new skill such as rowing – there are countless ways to get moving and motivated with a fresh new activity.
If your family and/or friends are up for a challenge, what about signing up for a fun run, distance swim, triathlon or adventure race? There’s nothing like a little competition (and fear!) to kick motivation up a notch!
Join group fitness classes
Group fitness is not for everyone, but joining a group is a fantastic way to stay motivated. Once you have committed to a fitness class, it is much harder to skip than just making a loose pact with yourself to get to the gym – you have that extra layer of accountability to kick you in the pants!
A group environment can also be much more inspiring once you are there. For me, I know that once I get to the class and get moving, I will push myself much harder than attempting some exercise at home. You get into the groove, you are motivated by those around you, and you have a social connection that is important for strong mental health too.
These days, there are many different types of group fitness classes, so shop around at your local gyms and give a few a go. Seek out your local gym for boxing, CrossFit, aerobic-style or Les Mills classes, cycling, circuit training or weightlifting and see what sticks.
Another option at your local gym is to hire a personal trainer for a custom fitness program. While a little more costly than group fitness, a personal trainer provides that extra level of support and will create workouts specifically for your body and your needs. For a more affordable PT experience, online training is a fantastic option where you have the 1:1 support and tailored workouts you need, with the added flexibility and cost-effectiveness of the tech-savvy new world!
Just start – give yourself 10 minutes
Have you ever started a workout thinking “I’m not into this”, then 10 minutes later you are powering through the reps and loving it? When motivation is low, sometimes just starting can ignite the fire and turn your mood on its head.
If you are not excited about working out, remind yourself that action creates momentum. Start moving and give yourself 10 minutes. If you still hate it after that time, call it quits but know that you have done something (another great saying, “something is better than nothing!”). However, after those initial 10 minutes, your body is warm, your brain has kicked into gear and you may feel ready to take on the full workout. In that case – embrace and go for it!
Recruit a buddy
Similar to the theory behind joining group fitness, working out with a friend, family member or partner can do wonders for your exercise motivation. Plan your meet up in advance and keep each other accountable to follow through.
Having a workout partner can make exercise much more fun, and you can bounce off each other throughout the session too. For those heading to a group fitness class, having that familiar face who you know is suffering just as much can be really reassuring!
Plug in to something you enjoy
This tip for boosting your exercise motivation is for those going solo and needing a bit of a carrot (as opposed to a stick) to get the job done. A great soundtrack can really pick you up and help get you moving, or an interesting podcast or audiobook is a great way to pass the time as you go for a walk, run, ride or low-intensity weights session. Choose something you look forward to listening to and you are more likely to plug in and get going.
If you are working out at home, there’s also no reason why you can’t have the TV on for most activities. Granted, something like a HIIT workout is probably best done while concentrating on not dying, but low-intensity resistance training or steady-state cardio provides a great opportunity to catch up on a show!
Just not up for a sweat session? Some gentle yoga or stretching can do wonders for your body and mind. There are many free videos and apps that can take you through a yoga routine, or if you are familiar with a few stretches, move through some of your favourites.
Stretching can help keep you mobile, improve flexibility and range of motion, and improve posture over time. When you do get back to exercise, your body will be primed and ready to move at full capacity.
Remember your ‘why’
All tricks and tips aside, the biggest and most important exercise motivator by far (in my opinion) is remembering your WHY. Even when the weather is poor, when you are cold and uninspired, taking a moment to remember why you are making a consistent effort to look after yourself is key to maintaining your health routine.
Maybe you have a particular goal, maybe you want to set a good example for your kids, or maybe you just want to keep your body looking schmick – whatever your reason is perfectly acceptable and admirable.
Keep that WHY in the forefront of your mind and remember that little actions over time lead to big results. When you can’t (or don’t want to) work out, pick a tactic from here and find a way to get a little extra activity in your day. It all adds up.