15 Tips For Working Out In Winter
As much as we talk about health and fitness being a lifelong journey (and that’s the truth!), we’d be lying if we said we found it easy to stay moving all year round.
With its longer days, warmer temperatures, extra sunshine and quite frankly, the better mood we all seem to be in, summer just lends itself to feeling motivated and living a more active lifestyle. And winter? With colder temps, dreary weather and shorter days, it’s the season where our motivation often takes a sudden nosedive.
Having ups and downs in your fitness journey is totally normal, but with a few handy tips (15, to be exact), you don’t have to let an entire season get in the way of your goals.
Choose movement you enjoy
The kind of exercise you consider a good time might be totally different to your best friend, so make sure you’re moving in a way that makes YOU feel good, whether that’s strength training, HIIT, yoga, Pilates, walking, boxing, cycling or dancing in your lounge! Not sure what you like? Experiment with different training styles and see what you like the most.
Finding ways to make movement more enjoyable is also about what time of day you exercise and how long for. If you prefer to get it out of the way in one hit (or that works best with your schedule), completing a 30-60 minute workout could be perfect for you. If a long workout sounds daunting, try breaking your movement up into smaller chunks or exercise snacks, like a short walk in the morning, a quick workout on your lunch break, and a yoga flow to end your work day.
Create a new goal
Setting yourself a fitness goal can be a great way to stay motivated and give you a reason to get moving. It could be as simple as completing 30 minutes of exercise each day, finishing a Sweat program, running 5 km, lifting heavier weights, increasing your flexibility, or mastering a new exercise.
Try something you’ve never done before
As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, and trying new things can keep your fitness routine fun and interesting during the chilly seasons. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Exercise in a different location or join a gym
- Try a new training style
- Choose a new Sweat Trainer
- Get active at a different time of day
- Work out with a friend if you normally exercise solo
- Swap walking for cycling
- Buy a new piece of equipment
Wait, what is all this effort even for? On those days, weeks or months when you’re struggling to find your fitness motivation, set yourself a movement goal and reward yourself for achieving it! You might aim for a daily step goal, three workouts per week, or even 20 minutes of movement per day.
As for the reward? Well, it can be anything you like! Treat yourself to a new book, a night at the movies, that delicious scented candle you’ve had your eye on, a massage, or brunch at your favourite cafe.
Make feel-good food choices
In winter, it’s natural to gravitate towards hearty, comforting meals like soups, casseroles and curries. Yum! Don’t worry, we definitely aren’t about to tell you to eat salads all winter, but eating mindfully can go a long way towards helping you feel your best.
If you tend to feel sluggish in winter and want more energy, pay attention to how you feel after each meal to figure out what helps your body thrive. This could be related to specific foods, your balance of macronutrients (carbs, proteins and fats), portion sizes, meal timing or alcohol consumption.
Try the 5-minute rule
Often the hardest part of exercising is getting started. To beat the workout procrastination, set a timer for five minutes and get moving, then reassess how you feel at the 5-minute mark. If you still aren’t feeling up to it then you can stop, knowing you gave it your best shot, but for many people those five minutes are enough to get those feel-good endorphins pumping!
Find a workout buddy
Having some company can take exercise from average to awesome in a flash. A workout buddy can not only make movement more fun and social, but also add some friendly competition, increase your safety if you’re exercising outdoors, and create accountability. A workout buddy doesn’t have to be someone you complete intense workouts with, it could be as simple as a walking partner or someone you drive to the gym with.
If you love exercising solo but still want to feel supported by other women on similar journeys to you, why not try connecting with the incredible Sweat Community on social media or via the Community tab of the Sweat app.
Exercise during your lunch break
When the days are shorter, moving your body first thing in the morning or after work can mean exercising in the dark which isn’t always ideal for safety OR motivation. If you have time, try squeezing in some exercise during your lunch break when it’s usually the lightest and warmest part of the day. Heading outside will also mean reaping the benefits of spending time in nature. Win-win!
Prioritise your warm-up
If you’re feeling cold when you’re ready to start your workout, dedicate a few more minutes to your warm-up to ensure you’ve elevated your body temperature and increased blood flow to your muscles. Start slow and gradually increase the intensity. This will help to prepare your body for the movement to come and reduce your risk of injury.
A good winter warm-up could include five minutes of cardio, followed by some dynamic stretches using joints and muscles you will be focusing on during your workout, such as leg swings, bodyweight lunges and arm circles.
Set yourself up for success
Make life easier for yourself by prepping as much as you can! Here are some tips:
- For morning exercise, lay out your activewear or home gym equipment the night before
- Set an alarm that doesn’t allow time for snoozing or changing your mind. This will also maximise the amount of deep, restorative sleep you get and is a great way to start your day feeling accomplished!
- For exercise after work, get changed as soon as you get home
- Put your exercise sessions in your calendar or diary like an appointment
- If you prefer to exercise outdoors, check the forecast in advance to plan the best times of day to be outside
- If a lack of motivation or stormy weather could get in the way of your exercise session, have a plan B up your sleeve. This could be a backup workout option, some movement you can do indoors, or a friend who can check in on you to keep you accountable
Remember your why
Think about why you exercise and keep that at the front of your mind throughout winter, whether it’s for your mental health, confidence, energy, better sleep, building muscle or building immunity.
Many of us also want to be the fittest, healthiest version of ourselves during summer when we are more active and social, and the trick to feeling your best in summer is prioritising your health and fitness in winter.
Dress for the elements
Exercising outdoors has so many benefits, but the last thing you want is to catch a chill, slip over or get sunburnt.
When it comes to winter workout clothes, wear layers you can easily take off when you warm up. This could be a base layer like a singlet or t-shirt with a long-sleeve top or jacket. For your base layers, avoid cotton and choose sweat-wicking fabrics to draw the moisture away from your body and dry quickly. On really cold days, protect your extremities with gloves, a beanie and thicker socks.
Before you head outside, check the tread on your shoes. If they’re flat or worn down, you might want to invest in a new pair to reduce your risk of slipping over.
When it’s dark outside, wear bright or reflective clothing so you’re visible and try to exercise in well-lit, busy areas. On sunny days, don’t forget to apply lip balm and sunscreen with SPF! Moisturising your face can also protect your skin from harsh winds and cold temperatures.
Revamp your playlist
Are all the songs that amped you up in summer now feeling a bit stale and doing nothing for your motivation? It’s probably time for a new playlist! Carve out some time to find music that gets you moving, or check out Sweat on Spotify or Apple Music for some inspo.
Drinking plenty of water can be a struggle in the winter months if you don’t feel as thirsty, but it’s important to stay hydrated if you’re leading an active lifestyle as you lose a lot of water through sweat and breathing.
Being dehydrated can also lead to tiredness, headaches, poor digestion and impaired workout performance. If your urine is darker than pale yellow, it’s a sign you need to drink more water! Herbal teas are another great option.
Make a home gym
On days when the weather is keeping you inside or your motivation to go to the gym is flatlining, it can help to have some equipment at home! It doesn’t need to be anything big or fancy - even a couple of resistance bands, dumbbells and a yoga mat is a great home set-up.
Staying active during winter can be tough. Be kind to yourself, remember how good movement makes you feel, and focus on creating a workout routine you enjoy.
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.