By Joli Guenther, MSSW, NASM-CPT
Winter’s short days, falling temperatures and a busy social calendar can upset even the most established fitness routine. If you’re struggling to show up for your workouts, it might be time to consider what makes a successful winter fitness program. A good winter program is more than just pulling out the treadmill or picking up an exercise tape. It should be personal and enjoyable. If you want to stick to your routine, think about your motivation for working out and making your workouts meet your needs. Here are some common motivators and their workout fixes.
Social Connection: Maybe you couldn’t care less about your heart rate, but you love spending time with your friends and family. Find a way to make your workouts about connecting with someone special or a group. Good social workouts include mall-walking with a friend, joining an indoor sports league, or sledding with your kids. Another benefit of socially connecting during your workouts is the accountability built in when others are waiting for you to show up.
Convenience: If you’re struggling to make time for your workouts, combine your workouts with other activities. Use your home exercise equipment while catching up on reading or television. Having a treadmill, elliptical, or bike at home also ensures you don’t have to spend time driving to a gym. You’ll also be more successful if you find ways to fit your workout in first thing in the morning or during your lunch hour. If you don’t have an office gym, take a look for hallways and stairwells that can be used as a place to lift your heart rate. You can also consider springing for a personal training session to teach you some ways to stay fit that can be done indoors and with little equipment.
Challenge: Winter is a great time to incorporate a new challenge in your fitness routine. While indoor equipment isn’t interchangeable with the same activity performed outside, it does provide accountability by measuring pace, resistance and distance accurately. Use your winter break to increase your pace and effort level beyond your usual steady training, or consider placing a greater emphasis on strength training in your routine. Mixing indoor workouts with the occasional outdoor challenge that takes advantage of sunny weekends or lunch hours can be a rewarding way to see the gains you’ve made in fitness.
Fun: If you dread the doldrums of doing the same old workout at the same old time, enjoyment to your workout. Winter is a great time to enjoy activities that will make you sweat and keep you smiling. Skiing, skating and sledding all provide ways to enjoy the sunny days by dressing warm and heading outside. Bring along your favorite furry friend to bring energy and amusement to an evening walk. If cold temperatures just aren’t your cup of tea, treat yourself to some indoor activities, such as swimming or group exercise, and enjoy the novelty of time spent taking care of yourself.