Winter is a time where you may feel more like snuggling under the covers than getting up and working out, but it is important to keep moving. Experts agree that getting at least 150 minutes of exercise each week is one of the best things you can do for your health. If you are wondering how to stay motivated and on track with your exercise goals this winter, these five tips can help.
1. Maintain Proper Nutrition
Food is fuel for your body, so it only stands to reason that proper nutrition will help advance your exercise goals. It can provide the energy you need to push through tough workouts while giving muscles the nutrients they need to rebuild and recover.
Most nutritionists and medical experts agree that a diet rich in plant-based foods is the healthiest option. Adding lots of colorful fruits and veggies promotes gut health and supplies cells with vital antioxidants to combat free radical damage. Fill up on grain bowls and roasted winter veggies for a seasonal treat. Or, toss green superfoods powder into a smoothie for a great way to fuel your winter workouts on those days you are in a hurry to head out the door.
2. Seek Alternative Activities
Keep things fun and interesting by trying new exercises and workout routines. Cross Training is a great way to work multiple muscle groups at the same time, which increases functional fitness. Plus, learning a new skill or activity helps keep your mind sharp. Instead of doing the same tired workout, try adding one or more of these fun activities to your exercise schedule:
- Rock climbing — indoors or out
- Stand up paddleboarding
- Ice skating
- Ballroom dancing
- Hot yoga or a barre class
3. Take Your Workout Outdoors
Exercising in the cold weather actually has several benefits over warmer weather workouts. For starters, outdoor exercise provides exposure to the sun, which is necessary for vitamin D production. It can also boost your mood and energy levels, which will help keep you motivated and coming back for more.
You probably won’t be drenched in sweat after the first couple of minutes, either. That’s because your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to achieve the same results in cold weather versus warmer temperatures, so you expended less energy. There is also evidence that suggests exercising in the cold helps the body convert white fat into brown fat — that kind that burns calories.
4. Exercise First Thing in the Morning
No matter how much you promise yourself you’ll hit the gym on your way home in the evening, the list of other things demanding your attention stands a very good chance of getting in the way. That might not be bad once in a while, but skip a couple of days in a row and you are at risk of breaking your workout habit. Since research shows that it takes about two months to develop a new one, the winter will be long gone before you get back in the swing of things.
Remove that risk by exercising first thing in the morning. Set your alarm thirty minutes earlier than normal and you’ll have the time built right in. There are other benefits of a morning workout, too. You can expect to feel more energized and upbeat throughout the day, and it may help you manage your weight and blood pressure better than exercising at other times of the day.
5. Practice Self Care
An exercise routine will be hard to sustain if you are run down and unhealthy. Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep each night, drink plenty of water, limit alcohol to no more than one drink a day and avoid tobacco products. Adding a daily meditation session can help control stress and keep you focused, too. Be sure to practice regular self care by taking time out for yourself.
Keeping up an exercise routine throughout the winter is a great way to stay energized and healthy. By moving workouts to the morning, trying new activities and eating right, you can stay motivated and on track to meet your fitness goals.