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How to Exercise When It's Cold and Dark

Stay Strong: How to Survive Working Out Through Winter

'Tis the season to lose all fitness motivation . . . I'm serious! Once Winter rolls around my healthy eating goals go out the window, and so do my workouts. When the weather starts to dip and there are more hours of dark than daylight, just getting out from under my doona can seem like too much effort. Luckily, I've learned my lesson — if I can get my butt to the gym or out the door to start a run, I can accomplish it — it's just finding the motivation that's truly a struggle. These seven tricks have helped jolt me back in to my routine, so give them a try!

Let There Be Light

When it's dark in the morning, my first inclination is to just keep hitting snooze until I finally drag myself out of bed. To combat my early morning laziness, I've found one trick that seems to really work: turning on my light. As soon as my first alarm goes off, my arm shoots up and flips the switch, forcing me to be bathed in a warm glow. Soon, I'm out of bed and ready to get outdoors.

Warm Up Indoors

If I'm headed out on a run when the temperatures have dipped down, I wake up my mind and body with a quick warm-up in the lobby of my apartment building. Sure, it looks a little silly if a neighbour catches me doing a few jumping jacks and high knees, but it's well worth it.

Gear Up

Most of the year, my go-to outfit is shorts and a t-shirt. But when I'm struggling to make it out in the chilly weather, cosy clothes make everything just a little bit better. Stylish outerwear like warm jackets (with reflective strips if possible) or even running gloves make my time spent outdoors much more bearable.

Plug In

OK, this may seem like cheating, but on days when I'm struggling to get myself off the couch and into the gym, I'll treat myself. I tote along my phone and play a favourite Netflix show while I hit the bike or elliptical. Getting engrossed in a favourite series is a fool-proof way to distract you from a workout, and it's a great way to get yourself up and off the couch — no watching unless your feet are moving!

Get Set to Sweat

I'm always cold during the Winter, so the one thing I really look forward to is getting toasty. Whether it's hitting up a Bikram yoga class or just spending a few extra minutes in the sauna post-cycling class, just the thought of basking in the heat is enough to get me going.

Lug Your Gym Bag to Work

Winter nights are the death of evening workouts. When I leave the office in the pitch dark, all I can think about is curling up under my covers with a hot chocolate in one hand and a book in the other. But if I make sure to tote my gym bag to the office, I'll know that the entire walk home I'll have a constant reminder that the gym is just a quick walk away.

Recruit a Buddy

Yes, I know I've shared my love for running alone in the past, but desperate times call for desperate measures. During the Winter, one of the biggest tricks you can pull is recruiting a buddy to hit the gym with you. No matter what you do, or at what time of day, enlisting a partner will mean that the moment you start to drag your feet on the way to workout, you'll have no choice but to make it there anyways.

Image Source: Shutterstock
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