If it seems easier to stay in shape when the sun is shining and the weather is warm, don’t worry. It’s not all in your head. Recent studies show that mortality rates increase during cold, winter weather. The cold and extended hours of darkness can make outdoor activities harder and can also discourage you from leaving the house to go to the gym. People with Seasonal Affective Disorder can battle lack of energy, fatigue, and even mood swings during the winter. All of these things can deliver a major blow to your fitness and health routines.
So how do maintain our commitment to fitness during the cold winter months?
Try a Winter Sport
One way to stay motivated and active is to try something new. Even if it never becomes your favorite sport, you will reap the physical benefits of staying active and gain the experience of learning something new. Try ice-skating, skiing, or ice hockey. The best part about these sports is that they get you out of the gym and into the great outdoors. Many local community groups and fitness centers run classes that help newbies learn a sport or get involved in an activity.
Get the Right Equipment
If you are a person who has always trained outdoors, use the cold weather as an excuse to buy new gear that’s weather appropriate. Take some time to consider the kind of weather you are likely to encounter and then prepare for it. Running in the rain, snow, and extreme cold requires planning. Tackling inclement weather like a challenge can help you to stay on the road even in the depth of winter.
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Stay Focused On Your Ultimate Goal
Whether its a solid gym routine or training for your favorite sport, fitness is a lifelong pursuit. You aren’t just trying to get a “beach body”. You are working towards higher energy levels, better sleep, stress management, cardiovascular health and general well-being. Are you going to let a little wind and snow stand in the way of all of that?
Can’t make it to the gym? There are lots of great at home workouts that you can do. Feeling sluggish? Do some simple yoga in your jammies. You don’t have to go to the gym to stay fit. Your exercise routine should adapt to your lifestyle. If you just can’t hike and swim in the winter weather, find something you can do at home to fill the gap.
Keep a Record
Lots of fitness apps allow you to track your weight, steps, hydration and even sleep. Being able to see your lifestyle in black and white may help keep you motivated. Some people prefer to go analog, creating charts and tables to keep track of body measurements and other fitness data.
Keep in Touch
Sharing the journey with others helps to keep you accountable and motivated. Knowing that somebody is waiting for you to show up might be the push you need to brave the cold and get to the gym. Many health apps have a social board where fellow fitness enthusiasts can share tips, tricks, motivation, and weekly results. Local community centers are also great places to find friends. Pretty soon you’ll be heading out the door as much for the Zumba class as for the awesome people you’ve met along the way.
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I am an author and musician based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Balancing long hours at the office with a fair amount of time at the gym keeps me focused and fit. Try it for yourself, for your health!