How to Stay Motivated This Winter

The winter is now upon us, it’s dark when you get up to start work and even darker once you have finished work. This makes motivating ourselves a hell of a lot harder to get out and be active, right? Don’t let this winter knock your motivation!

The weather alone is one of the most commonly reported barriers to exercise participation. During the winter months, this can be hard and you might let the weather or darkness kill your motivation. This year we are faced with other difficulties too. Given the current situation, in some areas of the country gyms are shut, exercise classes have gone virtual and we can’t attend our club runs. But that’s why it is vitally important we make the effort to remain active during this time, try to absorb some natural daylight and breath some fresh air too. If you combine exercise with the great outdoors you can get even greater benefits for your mental wellbeing.

Check out our top 10 tips to staying motivated this winter.

Don’t use the weather as an excuse.

Try to get outdoors at least once a day! If you really don’t want to face the cold or rain, make sure you have an alternative. Home workouts are a great way to stay active, so develop a set of regular activities that are always available regardless of the weather (e.g. home workouts – Yoga, Pilates, bodyweight circuits). Home workouts are great for those really cold, dark and icy mornings or evenings. Write down 6 of your favourite exercises set your timer for 30 – 60 seconds and aim to do 3 sets of each exercise.

Set yourself goals.

Set a long-term goal which you want to achieve by the end of winter (around March/April time), but also some short-term goals to keep you on track during the process. For example, your long-term goal might be to compete in some sort of running event, let’s say a 10k, half marathon or full marathon in March/April time. So, some short-term goals will be great for keeping you on track and keeping you motivated during the dark, rainy, cold months ahead. These could consist of a certain number of miles you want to cover per week or a certain amount of gym sessions you want to complete per week.

Over the weeks remember to remind yourself of those goals you have set yourself and what it will mean to you if you achieve these goals! HOW WILL IT FEEL IF YOU ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL? Ask yourself this question to keep you motivated.

Get a gym buddy or
(virtual) running partner.

This might be a virtual buddy at the moment. Use apps like Strava so you can check in on each other and give each other kudos, or complete some virtual workouts together whilst on face time or ‘walks and talks’. Make sure you pop these sessions into your diary so you have made them a priority and you won’t let your virtual buddy down.

Plan your activity.

Plan your weekly activities, rather than just winging it each week. Write them in your calendar. If you have sessions booked in and you have prioritised that time for exercise you are more likely to do them! Plan some fun weekend activities which you and the family can enjoy, perhaps a walk in the woods or family circuits.

Treat yourself to some winter activewear.

New activewear is great motivation. If you look the part, you’ll feel the part! And if you feel warmer you will be more motivated to continue. So, invest in some thermal layers to make those wet walks/runs comfier.

Some must-haves:

  • long-sleeved warmer gym kit, thermal layers – leggings or base layers,
  • some UV running kit so you can be seen in the dark,
  • a running head torch so you can see in the dark,
  • a waterproof jacket.

Get changed into your gym kit ASAP.

This might sound a bit odd but get into your exercise/activewear so you are ready to go! It makes it so much easier; you can then head straight out the door for that run or straight into your living room for that home workout, rather than having a cuppa and getting caught up with other distractions (sitting on the sofa and watching the TV).

Make a solid playlist or be mindful.

Use motivational music to get you pumped and energised for your activity or podcasts that make the time go so quickly! Or try to be mindful during your exercise. Think about those times when you set out to exercise only to spend the entire time clock-watching, rushing through your workout, and thinking about all the things you should be doing instead. At that moment in time you have made exercising a priority- so take your time, think about your movements and why your exercising. By being mindful during exercise you can have a stronger connection with your body as you focus on each movement, your posture, the muscles you are engaging and your breathing, so you are likely to get better results and feel more satisfied.

Pick the time of day that works for you.

Don’t dwell on it all day thinking “eurghh, I’ve got to go and exercise after work”. Why not try starting your day with exercise? That way it’s done and dusted before you have even properly woken up and you can just crack on with the day!

Think about that after feeling.

How often do you dwell on the fact you need to workout, but once you have actually worked out you feel more awake, more energised, like your glowing?! Remember that feeling! All those endorphins are being released, those stress hormones are being buffered which in turn makes you feel good and sleep better! So, next time you’re dreading that workout, think back to how good it makes you feel!

Likewise, think about how you will feel if you miss that session. Obviously, we all have times when life takes over and we just physically do not have time to work out, but if you are just missing that run because it’s raining or the workout because it’s cold and dark… THINK AGAIN… REMEMBER THAT GLOWING FEELING!

Don’t be a couch potato.

A couch potato is someone who meets the government guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, yet still spends the vast majority of their time sedentary. With more people working from home, it is easy to become a couch potato. Research shows we should aim to move every 30 minutes for at least 2 minutes. This is vitally important for our metabolic health. So, make sure you are breaking up that sitting time throughout the day! Maximise what you have available to you – use your stairs, complete some desk-based exercises, don’t sit down whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, walk or stand whilst on the phone.