If you’ve ever felt like you had the winter blues, you’re not alone. Although some people certainly do love the crisp, cold weather, multiple polls have shown that winter is the hands-down least favorite season among most Americans. Unless you live in a tropical climate, it can be difficult adjusting to the transition into colder weather. If you live in a non-tropical climate, this means shorter days, fewer (if any) hours of sunlight, bad weather, more time spent indoors, and perhaps even seasonal depression.
The combination of low energy levels and colder weather can make it difficult to stay motivated to maintain your health and fitness goals. Here are some ideas for how you can stay fit and focused, even when you’re stuck indoors.
Stay Focused Year-Round
Make It a Competition
Even if you’re not a competitive person by nature, turning your fitness routine into a friendly competition is a great way to make it fun while keeping yourself motivated. For instance, you could boost the social aspect of your workout routine by inviting your best friend, coworker, relative, or even your spouse to be your workout buddy. In addition to spending time with others, you’ll have someone else to hold you accountable for exercising.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Holding yourself to too many rigid rules is a great way to set yourself up for failure. Easing your way into a workout routine is ideal for preventing injuries as well as for coping with seasonal affective disorder. Instead of telling yourself that you “must” work out on certain days of the week or for a specific amount of time each day, start celebrating the small victories instead. When it comes to establishing a workout routine, any little bit counts, even if only for a few minutes per day. You can always work your way up from there.
Do What Works
It’s also important to be aware of what motivates you. Do you get bored when you do the same type of workout each day? Try a program like P90X, which includes variety in your daily workout routine. Does your mind wander when you’re running indoors on a treadmill? Try an indoor activity like swimming, dancing, or even a rock climbing in a gym. If you find that you’re often struggling to make time to work out, consider sitting your workout clothes by the door before you go to bed. That way, you can grab them on your way to work, making it easier to squeeze in some fitness.
Indoor Workout Ideas
Now that you’ve got an idea for how to stay motivated, it’s time to choose which workout(s) you’ll do. While some people still run outside year-round, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If you prefer to stay indoors, you might try a treadmill or elliptical for cardio. You can spice up your treadmill routine using the latest Apple Watch and smartphone apps, which allow you to join instructor-led fitness classes from any treadmill in the world while competing against other participants for prizes.
If that’s not stimulating enough, it’s time to get more creative. Many gyms offer indoor swimming pools, complete with showers and heated locker rooms, so you can get a taste of summer fitness, even when it’s cold outside. Yoga is another great option for calming the mind while building strength in the form of long, lean muscles. In addition to warming your body and helping you get fit, these activities are gentle on the joints and can also help you cope with seasonal depression or anxiety.
One final word of advice for working out in the winter: put safety first. Always. The Mayo Clinic recommends dressing in layers whenever you will be heading outdoors during colder months. Even if you’re working out indoors, you’ll want to bundle up en route to your gym, yoga studio, or any other location that requires you to leave home. Above all else, listen to your body during your workouts. You don’t want to injure yourself; you just want to push yourself to the limit your body can handle.
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