Staying Motivated to Exercise When It's Cold Outside

As the temperatures begin to fall, many people want to curl up on the couch to watch television or read a book. They don’t want to think about having to exercise, especially if that means having to go out into the cold. There are many ways to stay motivated to exercise when it’s cold outside. Keep reading to find the motivation you need.

If you enjoy walking, running, or bicycling as exercise, but don’t want to get outdoors when it’s cold, it’s understandable. You can find the motivation to exercise during the cooler months even if you don’t want to go outside to do it. There are so many options from which to choose.

Why It's So Hard to Exercise

Perhaps you have set goals that are too big, or you chose the wrong type of exercise. Do you feel that you “must” exercise? These things may keep you from choosing to exercise during the winter months.

What type of exercise goals have you set for yourself? If you’re just starting to incorporate exercise into your daily life, start with small goals. Setting goals that are too lofty, in the short-term, will cause you to become frustrated and more likely to quit because it will be difficult to reach your goals. Starting with smaller goals will help you to achieve some success. Then increase your goals again to a larger goal than your previous one, but one that is still attainable.

If your ultimate goal is to run a marathon, it’s unreasonable to think you’d be able to achieve that goal on the first day. It will take many, many weeks, possibly months, to work up to that goal. Instead of trying to run 26 miles on your first outing, plan to do something more reasonable. If you’ve never run before, it’s important to begin running on a daily basis or at least on every other day basis. Before long, you’ll be running further and further each day.

Weight lifting is a great exercise but lifting 100 pounds as a short-term goal is unreasonable and could be dangerous. If you’ve never lifted weights before and try to lift 100 pounds on your first day, you could easily injure yourself. Start with smaller goals – 50% less than what you believe you can lift – and do a few repetitions with that amount. Be sure your form is correct, and you’ll be less likely to have an injury. After you’ve warmed up your muscles use the next higher weight. It may take you a couple of weeks to reach your goal of lifting 100 pounds but working up to it will reduce the chance of injury.

Is your chosen form of exercise something you can easily do during the winter months? Suppose you love rowing a boat during the warmer months of the year. Is it reasonable to continue rowing if the lake is frozen? If you started taking water skiing lessons during the summer, certainly you won’t want to continue getting out onto the water in a swimsuit when it’s cold outside.

Think of some activities you can do in the winter that you’ve always wanted to learn or become better at doing. Perhaps you ice skated as a child. Even if you haven’t laced up a pair of skates in years, now would be the perfect time to begin skating again. Have you ever wanted to learn to ski? If there’s snow in your area – whether you’re skiing cross country or downhill – take advantage of it. You may discover that you’ve found a new favorite winter activity!

Finally, change your mindset. Instead of telling yourself that you “have” to exercise during the colder months, convince yourself that you “get” to. You’re healthy and able to move. Take advantage of the fact that you “can” do these activities. Many people would love to be able to take a walk outside or glide across an ice skating rink.

The most important way to stay motivated to exercise in the cooler months is to find an activity that you enjoy and that you set reasonable goals for yourself. After you have your mind made up to keep moving when it’s colder outdoors, have set reasonable goals that are easy to reach, and have chosen the activity that will keep you moving and warm, you may find that motivation isn’t as difficult to find as you thought.

You can remain active during the cooler months even if you want to crawl under the covers to get warm. Set some S.M.A.R.T. goals, enlist the help of a friend, try new activities, and get moving. You know you will feel better which will motivate you to keep going.

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