Getting your daily 30 minutes of moderate physical activity recommended by the American Heart Association can often be challenging, even in those warm summer months. And your fitness motivation may quickly decline once October ends and the weather turns a bit more frosty. However, keeping fit is a vital part of staying healthy and happy year-round, however challenging it is weather-wise.
If you find it tough to pull back those warm sheets this winter, don’t get discouraged. There are many ways to keep your body tuned up and beach-ready for 2016. From signing up for that early summer marathon to treating yourself to some new fitness swag, here are seven essential tips to keep you in shape this winter.
Get a winter swag fitness makeover. If you begin experiencing winter workout blues, try sprucing up your fitness style. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (2012) examined the mental motivation your clothing offers. In the study, researchers at Northwestern University, Illinois, described this as “enclothed cognition.” New winter fitness gear may give you what the study’s authors call “sustained attention” for fitness. If you wear it, you just might use it.
Embrace the winter. Staying fit is not all about the mileage you run or the amount of reps you stack up at the gym. Embrace the winter and switch things up to stay motivated. Take a hike — literally! You can hit the same trails you do in the summer months, if accessible, and get a new perspective on your surroundings. You can also employ winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and cross-country skiing to switch up your winter fitness.
Drag and drop a new winter playlist. Music has a powerful effect on your motivation, according to research published in NeuroImage (2005). The study noted that “listening to pleasant music evokes physiological reactions.” Spending some time crafting the perfect winter mix may help get you out the door and on a brisk wintry walk around your neighborhood.
Set a fitness goal you have always wanted to accomplish. With summer barbecues and beach days long gone, you may find a bit more free time in your daily schedule. You can transform that extra hour into a fitness goal, like 100 push-ups in two minutes or a personal record–defining two mile. Set some goals and you may just hold yourself accountable to them.
Give a new fitness class a go. The cold isn’t everyone’s fitness cup of tea, but don’t let that stop you, because there is a wealth of indoor fitness classes that may make winter more enjoyable. You can Latin dance until March or heat up your winter with Bikram yoga. A study published in the Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness (2011) found Bikram yoga to decrease stress, which may be useful after the bustling holiday season.
Commit to an early summer race. If you have always dreamed of finishing a 26.2, then why not begin your training this winter? Signing up and paying your race fees will put you in the mindset you may need to stay motivated all winter long. Tell all your friends and family, too. This will make your commitment real and you will find the support heartwarming, despite the cold weather.
Don’t forget the timeless tale of the hare and tortoise. Winter fitness can be fun and exhilarating if you find an exercise routine that works and is comfortable for you. If the weather outside is howling, take a day off, maybe two, and snuggle up with a warm cup of tea. There is no need to push the limits and suffer an injury or get sick. Listen to your body and mind, the rest will follow.
Staying fitness-minded this winter may put you in a wonderful position to enjoy your summer even more. Spring fitness may subsequently become easier, as well. Getting your daily physical activity and eating nutritious, healthy meals is optimal for a healthier and happier you, regardless of the weather.
How do you stay fit during the winter months?
—The Alternative Daily