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We are fortunate to have an abundance of outdoor activities within very close proximity to our homes. When it gets cold, however, it can seem more tempting to stay inside and snuggle up with a book. 

Exercising during the winter can also be challenging because there is less daylight. If you usually exercise after work, you have to overcome the shorter days. Getting out of work when it is dark, colder, and seemingly later can be a demotivator for some.

Motivation to exercise during the winter when it is cold outside is a real test to one’s determination. To succeed at this test, you have to change your mindset and your gear. Here are six tips to help you safely maintain your exercise routine through the winter months. 

  1. Go to the gym. If you don’t want to work out outside, the gym is a great place to get a good workout. Try a new class such as cycling or yoga. Give lap swimming in a warm pool a go. Lift weights or run on the treadmill. Just commit yourself to go at least three days for an hour each week and follow-through. 
  2. Try working out during lunch. If the low light in the morning and evening makes it tough to exercise after work, consider exercising during lunch when darkness isn’t a factor. Go for a run or a hike outside. The fresh air will help reset your brain to improve productivity for the second half of your day.
  3. Dress appropriately for the outdoors. Enjoying the outdoors is heavily dependent on being appropriately dressed. Before you head out, look at the weather forecast and select gear that will keep you comfortable. Consider keeping bins in your garage that contain cold-weather clothing such as gloves, a hat, and a balaclava so you can quickly get them on before heading out. If it is icy outside, be sure your running or hiking shoes have Yak Trax or other traction devices to help keep you from slipping. 
  4. Pack the night before. Get your gear bag packed and ready to go before you go to bed. Having less to do in the morning will help push you out the door. 
  5. Set your alarm and temperature gauge to get you moving. The hardest part of getting up and exercising early in the morning is the getting up part. Set your alarm to play fun, upbeat music instead of an obnoxious alarm. Set your thermostat so it is warm in your house upon rising, which will help motivate you to change into your workout clothes and head out. 
  6. Enlist a friend. Having an exercise partner is a great motivator. Hold each other accountable for showing up and getting a workout in. Consider joining a running group or another exercise group. The camaraderie and social support will help keep you motivated to come back.