Cold days and decreased daylight can make it hard to get out of bed and get moving. If your workout routine is typically outdoors, the weather can dampen your motivation. If you live in an area where it stays dark late into the morning or gets dark early in the evening, light too can become a barrier to exercise.
But keeping up with a fitness routine in the winter has many benefits for your physical and mental health. At this time of year, exercise can help manage symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Exercise can also boost your immunity, just as colds, flus, and other illnesses are making their winter rounds.
We asked movement therapist Mary Liz Taylor, R-DMT, how we can support our minds and bodies with movement, no matter the weather.
Find an exercise group or accountability partner.
Canceling a workout with yourself is easy. Keeping a date with a friend might be just the incentive you need. Signing up for a group class can also serve as a source of accountability, and the energy of a group might give you a boost.
Just get dressed.
Putting on exercise clothes when you come home from work is a simple, manageable goal. And once the clothes are on, it’s tough to take them off without doing anything. Alternatively, try sleeping in your exercise clothes to make the morning transition easier.
Focus on the benefits.
Don’t punish yourself for missing a workout, and don’t push yourself to do more than you’re ready for. Attaching negativity to your fitness routine won’t help you stick with it. Learn to listen for what your body needs. Maybe it’s a high-intensity workout, or maybe it’s a slow walk in the woods.
Find something you enjoy.
And remember, always consult a physician before starting a new exercise routine.
Need some exercise ideas? Here are a few to consider:
- Swimming is an ideal way to get your cardio in a comfortable environment. Don’t love swimming? Try walking in a lap lane or taking water aerobics.
- Yoga is a great option for building strength, flexibility, and mindfulness. To really escape the weather, try a hot studio!
- Group exercise, like fitness or dance classes or mall walking groups, can combine movement with the fun of social connection.
- Bodyweight exercises can increase your heart rate and be done in a small space with no equipment. Try planks, squats, lunges, or push-ups.