How to: Stay motivated to stay active in the cold months

by | Oct 26, 2015 | Last updated Feb 15, 2022

It might not be winter yet, but as temperatures drop, so can motivation. Cold weather makes it tougher to get up and get moving, especially if you have to walk/drive/bike to a gym (or run outside!). Many people let the winter blues get them down and gain some cold weather “fluff.” If this sounds like something you could fall into, these tips will help you stay in shape and stay on track.

1. Keep setting goals. Though the temptation to curl up with a book and a mug of hot chocolate might be strong, that doesn’t mean you should just cast your goals to the wayside. Setting tangible goals for yourself will keep you moving towards whatever you want to accomplish. Try to cut down on wintertime comfort foods or aim to eat more veggies every day. Whatever it is, make it measurable and make sure it’s not too far out of reach. Check in with yourself (or your coach) each week to measure your progress – these weekly achievements add up fast! If you keep it up, you’ll meet your goal before you know it.

2. Don’t let health be an option. If you go to bed saying, “Maybe I’ll go to the gym tomorrow,” chances are you won’t go. Pack your bag before going to sleep so you can get up and go in the morning. If you hit the gym after work, bring your stuff with you so you can go directly after work, instead of detouring home (where you can easily get held up). Commit to your plans and follow through.

3. Make your own heat. Just the fear of feeling cold is enough to keep us inside sometimes. If you’re heading out for a run or just going out to the car to get to the gym, warm yourself up before you go out. Do 20 jumping jacks, burpees, or high knees…whatever your favorite form of quick cardio is, hit a few reps to heat up before braving the cold.

4. Dress for success. Running in winter is possible, but only if you’re dressed properly. Gear up in temperature- and weather-appropriate clothes. Use Runner’s World clothing calculator to make your outfit. Buy some comfy clothes for motivation! And if you’re just heading out to the gym, make sure you layer up before AND after leaving the gym. Even if you’re still sweating when you leave, put on some extra layers to prevent sickness.

5. Use the weather to your advantage. Cold doesn’t mean you can’t be outside! If you live in a snowy area, try skiing or snowboarding, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing. If you’d still rather be indoors, ice skating or hockey can be an awesome workout. Prep some delicious, healthy chili before you go so it’s ready for chowing down when you get back.

6. Know your excuses and be prepared to work around them. You know yourself. You know what gets you going – which means you also probably know your excuses. Beat them out ahead of time with planning and goals. But above all, you won’t want to do anything in the cold if you won’t enjoy it. Choose activities you love, and you’ll be excited to get up each day and get going!