Categories: Motivation Training

11 ways to stay motivated to work out this winter

February 7, 2017

How to stay motivated to work out during the long winter months? Tehrene Firman has some actionable advice.

The toss-up between staying cozy and warm under your covers and getting up for an early-morning workout during the wintertime is a tough one. It’s dark outside, energy levels are seriously lacking, and slipping your way to the gym on a sheet of ice? No thanks. But when all hope seems lost, there are some easy ways to get your cold-weather motivation back, even when the temp is well below zero.

The next time you’re struggling to keep up with your winter workout schedule, here’s how to boost your willpower.

1. Do something you actually like

It almost sounds too easy, right?

If you dread your workout, there’s no way you’re going to keep up with your routine. Instead, simply choose something you actually like doing. Researchers have found the combination of a cue — like your morning alarm — and an intrinsic reward is the key to turning exercise into a habit. If your workout makes you happy, you’ll wake up and want to get out the door the instant your alarm rings. Otherwise, if your workout just feels like something you have to get over with, you’ll spend every day trying to convince yourself to do it.

In short, pick something you love and you’ll be instantly motivated, even when it’s cold out.

2. Do an at-home workout

If bundling up for an outdoor run isn’t your thing, you can work up a sweat right in the comfort of your own home. (Yes, that means no excuses!)

Hop on a treadmill or elliptical if you have one, do a quick HIIT session, or grab your laptop and choose a YouTube video. Or try one of these at-home workouts. As long as you’re moving, you’re doing your body good (and most definitely beating those dreaded winter blues).

3. Grab a friend

Staying motivated to work out in the winter — and anytime of the year, for that matter — is much easier when you have a friend by your side. (And, well, someone to call and wake you up if you accidentally sleep through your alarm.) By scheduling a run, some gym time, or fitness classes throughout the week, you’ll keep each other accountable. No one wants to be a no-show when their buddy is depending on them.

4. Snag some new workout gear

Combat the cold — and give yourself a confidence boost — with some new gear, from some sneakers and warm spandex to a high-tech running watch. You’re not going to sit around staring at your new swag — you’re going to want to break it in.

5. Distract yourself with Netflix or Hulu

For those winter days you want to work out but also want to stay on the couch in your pajamas, we have a happy medium: Work out while watching one of your favorite shows. With something entertaining playing in the background as you bust out some squats and burpees, your workout will fly by faster than ever.
6. Work out right before or after work

You’re getting out of your house anyway, so why not throw in a workout while you’re at it? Pack up your bag and hit the gym before you head into the office or right after you clock out for the night. Or, try working out over your lunch break. By making it part of your routine, you’re more likely to stick with it and less likely to bail.

7. Create a calendar so you can hit your goals

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Try the free Polar Running Program, a personalized running plan in Polar Flow.

Some of us are better at sticking to things if we write them down, and workouts are no exception. Stay motivated to keep up your fitness routine by keeping a calendar of everything from weekly runs to gym sessions and classes. Then, as you check them off, you’ll be that much closer to reaching your goals, whether that’s becoming stronger, losing weight, or simply forming healthy habits. The Polar Flow service is a great way to keep a comprehensive training log.

If you like having your calendar on hand at all times so you can set reminders and switch things around easily, try an app like Polar Flow, which enables you to set training targets and schedule them on the days you want.

Otherwise, go old school with a planner or dry erase calendar you can set up in your home. (Bonus points if it’s always up where you can see it as a friendly reminder to get moving.)

8. Try something new and exciting

Winter might not be to blame for making your motivation levels dip from 100 to 0. The real reason? You might just be bored.

If you’ve been doing the same type of workout every day for months and haven’t been getting as excited about it, switch things up. If you’re a longtime runner, try a cycling class. Love swimming? Give rowing a shot. By giving yourself a challenge, you’ll surely get through the cold months and beyond.

9. Use the cold weather to your advantage

Snowy, freezing cold, blizzardy weather shouldn’t get you down — you should actually use it to your advantage. Ditch your routine once in a while and try a fun winter-inspired workout instead. Everything from skiing and ice skating to sledding (and running back up that big hill!) will get your heart rate up. Plus, getting to do something fun and sometimes childlike is a great way to relieve stress and make sure your workout willpower doesn’t die off throughout the season.

10. Make a new playlist

Nothing gets us moving like a good workout playlist. The only problem? They can get stale pretty quickly. If you’re dragging through your workouts this winter, switching up your queue could add that hop back into your step.

11. Keep eating healthy

You’ve heard it a million times, but once more won’t hurt: You’re not going to get as much out of your workouts if you’re not fueling your body properly. Treating yourself during the winter months is a must, but cookie and hot chocolate overload won’t get you anywhere you want to be. (Unless you want to be tired and groggy, that is.) By eating a healthy, balanced diet, you’ll feel energized and ready to take on your workouts all season long.



Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals or physicians. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

In the spotlight

Tehrene Firman

Tehrene Firman

Tehrene Firman is a New York City-based writer, editor and fitness enthusiast.