There is one question that always pops up each year as the weather begins to get colder and wetter. How do I stay motivated to exercise during winter? When it is windy and raining outside, the warm couch becomes so much more inviting. It is much more tempting to just stay indoors and hibernate. But hibernating won’t help us achieve our fitness goals. That’s why we’ve come up with a list of our favourite tips and hints to help you stay motivated during the cold and dark winter months.
Sign up for an event:
If you’re struggling to find the motivation to hit the gym, try signing up for a spring fitness event. Registering for the City to Bay in September or the Night Attack Obstacle Course in early October might be just what you need to keep you on track during winter.
If entering a race or competition isn’t your thing, why not set yourself a goal for an upcoming social event. For example, aim to go down a dress size before a wedding or dinner planned for September. Having a short term goal that has to be achieved by spring can help you find the energy to hit the gym even when it’s raining and the couch is calling.
Revisit your goals:
Revisit your fitness or weight loss goals to remind yourself why you go to the gym in the first place. If you have a long term goal (for example, lose 20kg over 12 months) try setting a smaller goal that can be achieved over winter (for example, lose 6kg by September). Make sure that your goal is SMART. In other words, it should be:
- Specific: it outlines the details of who, what, where, why, which and when. If your goal is to “lose weight”, how do you know when you’ve achieved your goal? If your goal is “lose 5kg”, it is much easier to determine when you’ve reached your goal.
- Measurable: make sure your goal is one you can measure to determine you’re on track.
- Attainable: A goal that is impossible will just leave you feeling disappointed. Set a challenging but achievable goal to keep you motivated to work towards it.
- Relevant: Make sure your short term goal is something that is important to you and will help you achieve your long term goals.
- Timely: set a timeframe in which you want to achieve your goal to avoid procrastinating working towards it.
During winter, track your progress towards this goal to ensure you’re on track and keep you motivated to hit the gym even with the bad weather.
Remember, you have to move it or you will lose it:
It would be great if we could go to the gym, work towards a goal and stop once we get there. But unfortunately fitness doesn’t work that way. Some training is still required if you want to maintain the results you’ve already achieved due to your hard work. Put another way, if you stop exercising or eating healthy over winter, your fitness levels will decrease and the weight will return. Remember this when the temptation to hibernate sets in. The last thing you want to do is return to the gym in September to find you’ve taken a couple of steps backwards.
Write a list of the benefits:
Write a list of all the reasons you exercise. Don’t limit yourself to ‘losing weight’ or ‘getting stronger’. Get creative and list as many reasons as you can think of. Here are just a few examples to get you going:
- Improvement in energy levels
- Increased immunity
- Reducing stress
- Relieving the symptoms of depression and anxiety
- It can improve sleep
- Improves your chances of living longer
- Exercise can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and many more conditions
- Exercise improves your ability to undertake everyday tasks such as climbing stairs and taking groceries to the car
Take the written list you’ve created and stick it somewhere where you will look at it every day. Refer to it when you feel your motivation waning.
Try a new group exercise class or Personal Trainer:
They say variety is the spice of life. Maybe a little variety is all you need to give your motivation a boost this winter. If your workout routine is feeling a little stale, perhaps try out a new class to see if you like it. If you’re a BodyPump regular but wanting a new challenge, why not try out a Grit class? If you’re usually in for Maria’s step class on Wednesday nights, why not tack on a CX Worx class afterwards?
Seeing a Personal Trainer is also a good method for adding a little variety to your workouts. They aren’t just useful for people who are new to exercise or the gym setting. They can also be beneficial for exercise veterans who would like a little extra motivation or someone to keep them accountable during the cold winter months.
Make it as convenient as possible:
When it’s cold, wet and raining outside, any hurdle that you face in your effort to get to the gym can easily become a deal breaker. During this time, you want to make sure fitting exercise into your day is convenient as possible.
If you like to exercise before work, try preparing your breakfast the night before to save time in the morning. Lay out your clothes and shoes before bed so you don’t have to hunt for them in the cold at 6am. If you usually exercise at night, try taking your gym clothes to work with you so you can go straight there on your way home. It can be really difficult to leave your house after you get home and comfortable.
Track your workouts:
Recording your workouts is a great way to chart your progress over time. There is nothing more motivating then comparing your current training program with what you were doing a few months ago. Seeing improvement can help give you that boost of motivation and encouragement to stick at it.
Find a workout buddy:
Try finding a workout buddy to help keep you motivated. Having someone to chat to can definitely make the time go faster and the chances of cancelling a training session reduces if you know someone is waiting for you. It’s also a lot of fun to have someone to celebrate your successes with as you work towards your goals.
If you can’t find someone to hit the gym with you, it can be just as useful to recruit a friend or family member to keep you accountable. A Stanford University study found that encouragement and support from another can increase the amount a person exercises. In that study, participants were contacted every three weeks and asked how much they had exercised recently and what they could do to increase that level in the week ahead. After 12 months, the researchers found that, on average, the participants increased their weekly exercising time by 78%.
Give yourself a (sensible) reward:
When motivation is hard to find, do a deal with yourself. If you get to the gym a certain number of times a week, you’ll treat yourself with some kind of reward. Just make sure it isn’t a reward that is going to sabotage your goals. If you are trying to lose weight, don’t reward yourself with chocolate. Instead, go for a non-food reward such as a warm bath, new workout clothes or a sleep in on the weekend.
I’m also interested to hear whether you’ve got any other tips and tricks you use to stay motivated. If so, let us know in the comment section below.