Baby, it’s cold outside! Even though you probably want to hibernate in your warm bed this winter and wear your Snuggie forever, that’s not something you can actually do—sorry! Winter weather can make getting up out of bed the least desirable thing to do, not to mention making exercise our Mount Everest. Though working out in the winter is not an easy feat, it can be done with a few simple adjustments.
We know what you’re thinking—you’re a “snooze striker,” hitting the snooze button the exact moment your alarm goes off and there’s no way to stay awake. But keep in mind staying motivated requires only one thing: Your attitude.
In a study from the University of Tampere in Finland, researchers stated that working out in nature leads to a greater emotional well-being and better sleep than exercising indoors—and that fact is no less true in winter than it is for spring, summer or fall. Sure it doesn’t feel like a viable plan with shorter days and darker nights draining our impetus to get outside, but with a creative mind, you can stay active this season by making the most of the cold weather, ultimately beating those winter blues.
Dress the part:
Don’t go out looking like the Michelin Man or in your lazy sweats—it’s vital that you dress the part and stay warm when you’re heading out on a winter workout. When you dress the part, you act the part. Try investing in active wear and don’t overbundle when you head out for a run or walk. Instead, adjust your expectations and dress as it if were 10 degrees warmer. Meaning, if it’s 25° outside, layer up for 35° because once you start moving, your body will warm up to a suitable temperature. Moreover, the more you exercise outside, the better you are at building a tolerance for colder weather. If you head out in sloppy gear, you could put yourself at risk for hypothermia as you’d sweat out in your clothes. Instead, consider layers like Rachel Green in almost every season of Friends. Start with something that is not cotton and can prevent that moisture that creates a chill. Next, wear a middle layer of fleece to act as an insulator and a breathable outer-shell made of wind and water-resistant materials. Don’t forget your hat as much of the body’s heat is actually lost from an uncovered head, so invest in a nice toque or a balaclava.
Create a plan:
If you choose to exercise in the winter months to reap the benefits of warmer days, try creating a plan for yourself. Whether it’s running a 5K, losing a few pounds, or even just wanting to try something new for a healthy lifestyle, create a visual board to help you reach your goals. Set up big goals and small goals! This type of goal setting helps you see the bigger picture. Stick up photos of that bathing suit you want to fit into or post up that reminder for a tropical vacation you want to head out on. Whatever you desire and hope to achieve, if you want to succeed, you have to believe you can. You might think about being successful and reaching your goals all the time, but our brain has another plan for us. By creatively visualizing with a vision board what you want out of this cold winter struggle, your chances of becoming successful in whatever you choose to pursue and dream of, become greater.
Take up a winter sport:
When we think winter sports, we immediately think of fresh air, fun and that adrenaline rush! But beyond all the awesomeness is the ability to burn copious calories and build endurance, balance, and muscle mass. From alpine skiing considered a power sport utilizing energy and muscles, to snowboarding which works your core, to the low impact ice skating that helps build bone mass, and snowshoeing that provides a cardio workout promoting agility, balance and endurance—the opportunities are endless.
Get creative at home:
With winter comes snowstorms, ice and whiteouts that will want you staying indoors forever! But you can’t rely on the weather for your health, so you need to consider gym alternatives. Create a contingency plan by looking towards your home for inspiration. Think outside the box: Run up and down the stairs, do push-ups against a counter top, get a stationary bike while binge-watching TV—try whatever you can to stay active and make it entertaining. Or, think of buying workout DVDs or investing in equipment. You might even want to hit up YouTube for exercises care of Blogilates or Fitness Blender! If you’re still feeling a lack of motivation during the cold winter, try calling on your friends for added support. Studies have shown that the benefits of exercise has a greater impact on your health and well-being when you have people keeping you active and accountable.
Besides getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D and boosting your mood, exercising outside can really burn some major calories but it can also make you really thirsty. It’s important to stay hydrated during your winter workout. Just like any other workout, the body continues to sweat, but that sweat will evaporate more quickly into the chilly and dry air, making it seem as though your body is losing less water. To minimize the dangers of a cold-weather fitness routine and stay warm from start to finish, drink water before, during and after to help protect your body from injury and sustain high peak performance. With any workout, don’t wait until the last moment to feel thirsty to hydrate yourself. Winter dehydration not only causes exhaustion, muscle fatigue, cramps and a loss coordination, but it can even cause a stroke. When you’re dehydrated, you’re also more prone to winter colds and flu, so make sure to drink as much water as you can.