When it’s (below) freezing outside and the days are shorter, we all tend to slow down a bit. If you want to stay active during the winter months and find yourself struggling to exercise regularly, here are three tips to help keep you moving during wintertime:
SCHEDULE YOUR EXERCISE
Schedule your exercise for the week and block out the time on your calendar. Rather than hoping you’ll be able to fit in exercise in between your other commitments, plan when you will work out and honor that commitment to yourself. If you don’t like the idea of setting a specific time to exercise (perhaps you need flexibility in your schedule), consider identifying target windows of time (e.g., Tuesday morning or Wednesday evening) or time adjacent to other tasks (e.g., immediately before work on Monday).
When scheduling, take your personal preference for time of day into consideration and be realistic about your existing habits. If you like to sleep in and find it challenging to exercise in the morning on weekdays, consider exercising in the evening or easing into your new morning routine over a period of weeks or months. If you plan to exercise in the evening and frequently skip your workout, consider exercising earlier in the day.
DETERMINE YOUR PRIMARY AND ALTERNATE ACTIVITIES
Select your activity of choice and determine an alternate option. Whether you intend to exercise inside or outside, knowing what you will do — along with when and where — will make it easier to follow through with your plans.
If the weather isn’t ideal for your selected activity or if you just aren’t feeling up to doing what you’ve chosen, having a secondary activity can help you avoid having to figure out your back-up plan in the moment…or giving up on your intention to exercise altogether.
MAKE THINGS EASY
Make things easy on yourself by working toward consistency rather than perfection. Set a threshold that you know you can achieve, in order to get yourself started.
For example, if you are tired after work and are tempted to cancel your exercise plans, consider exercising for five minutes instead. Once you are done with your five minutes, you can stop. (If you decide to exercise longer, consider the extra time a bonus.)
As an alternative to a time threshold, consider using a distance threshold (e.g., one mile) or repetition target (e.g., 10 squats). You can increase or decrease your target as your fitness increases or if you find yourself facing resistance to exercising. The goal isn’t to set your threshold at your ideal workout target; the goal is to make sure you find it easy to start your workout on the days you’ve designated.
Use your best judgement when planning your schedule, selecting your activities, and setting your “easy threshold.” Consistency with these three actions will support your efforts to exercise regularly during the winter season and throughout the year.