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How to Motivate to Exercise During the Winter

You Asked: Cold Weather Makes Me Not Want to Exercise

Dear Fit,
I used to run, hike, and bike outside when the weather was nice, but ever since frigid cold temps and snow blew in, I'm totally unmotivated to exercise. I hate to admit it, but I've taken about two months off. I don't want to pay for a gym membership because I know I'd never use it. Any suggestions to get me back on track? I don't want another two months to go by.
— Snuggled Up on the Couch

I'm sure many FitSugar readers can relate to losing exercise motivation in the Winter months. I have some suggestions to help you get into working out again so


The best way to kick-start yourself back into an active lifestyle is to make the decision to start now. Since you may not be able to do the same activities you enjoyed in the warmer months, find a way to embrace Winter so you can continue sweating it out in the great outdoors. If there's snow where you live, rent or buy a pair of snowshoes and you can walk anywhere — in the woods or even on snowy sidewalks. The snow adds resistance, so it's a great workout for your legs and core muscles, as well as your heart. Or if you want to work your upper body at the same time, give cross-country skiing a try. Find a golf course, a bike path, or a resort devoted to flat trails. If moving fast is more your speed, go skiing or snowboarding. All these Winter sports are major calorie burners. If you don't want to deal with equipment, then bundle up and go running in the cold — it's sure to warm you up.


Don't want to exercise outside? Get a bike trainer or roller for your bike, since you love to ride in the Summer. It allows you to cycle indoors on your regular comfy bike. I also use more fitness DVDs in the Winter when I don't feel like leaving my house. With so many to choose from, you can do just about any kind of workout in the privacy of your home. Also, you can always set up a home gym complete with a treadmill (or jump rope if you don't have the dough), dumbbells, resistance bands, and an exercise ball, and follow these circuit workouts.

Another idea is to work out at another place besides the gym. Indoor climbing gyms and yoga studios are great because you can pay as you go, instead of forking over a monthly or annual fee. Or you may be to pay a smaller fee just to use certain areas of a gym, such as the group class studio or indoor pool. Whatever you decide to do, try making a fitness date with a friend and you're sure to stick to it.

These are just a few ideas. If fellow readers have other suggestions, please share them in the comment section below.

Join The Conversation
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 7 years
I hate working out in winter, I found the solution was doing a circuit workout in front of the heater. So then I wasn't cold, cranky or unwilling to move.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I guess I'm spoiled--I have an elliptical machine and a room in my house dedicated to being a home gym. When it's too cold/yucky out to run outside, I use that and a jumprope to get a good workout in.
siúcra-gaelach siúcra-gaelach 7 years
the workout videos on on demand (if you have comcast cable) are amazing! especially jackie warner and jillian michaels! they will kick your butt :)
sparklestar sparklestar 7 years
I've been going running regardless ! It's been -5 degrees celcius and I've been out there... pounding the tracks ! I've found that wrapping up warm helps and then once you get going it's really not that bad. A good fleece, a good running jacket and some winter running tights are just what you need really. Or you could exercise indoors !
Deidre Deidre 7 years
Definitely try some DVDs. If you're bored and don't like routine, try Vanonymous's Netflix idea. Balance totally different workouts like kickboxing one day, yoga the next. Or if all else fails, just start with the simplest thing -- lunges or crunches or even marching in place all while you watch tv.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
sometimes you just have to HTFU.
michlny michlny 7 years
Get a jumprope - so cheap and such a great workout!! Also, take stairs everywhere. And really, you should try those same activities (running, hiking) in teh cold too - you may fall in love as I did. It's exhilarating!! I actually now enjoy my cold weather runs more than warm weather runs!
Vanonymous Vanonymous 7 years
I've just discovered the Netflix "watch instantly" fitness selection. They have about 40 dvds you can stream directly to your TV or laptop. That definitely gives you a big variety and a Netflix membership starts at only $8.99 a month. You need to make sure your TV is compatible to watch instantly. I do it through my boyfriend's PS3 and it is awesome. Another suggestion, since, like me, you're clearly not a fan of the cold, is to try hot yoga. You'll probably end up looking forward to being someplace where it's 94 degrees and you don't need to wear 10 layers to keep warm. This is usually pay as you go, so if you don't like it you're probably only out $10 - $15. Good luck!
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 7 years
I agree with you, krispin -- staying active for me helps alleviate some of the mood changes that come with the feeling that it's always dark and gray outside. I also suggest workout DVDs -- you can work up a sweat and stay active inside, PLUS you will be using/targeting muscles that you don't always use with your regular routine.
krispin krispin 7 years
I found that continuing my workouts through the "dark and cold" winter time actually helps me cope with lower temperatures better. I joined a gym last year and even tough I had my doubts, I'm actually enjoying it. (But I can't wait for warmer weather and longer days, when I'll be able to run and cycle outside again...)
ticamorena ticamorena 7 years
I've had exactly the same problem because I love running and cycling but it gets dark around 4pm in winter, never mind the cold. As far as running is concerned, I was unwilling to join a gym nor to buy a treadmill, yet I didn't want to lose the cardio or muscle strength if I had to take a break, so I started using a skipping rope for 40 mins each day doing either two leg skips or running skips; it helps me keep my form for running, and also is a great warm-up if I want to do any outdoor sport, requires no extra bulky or expensive equipment, and you can do it year round
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