Motivation to Exercise in the Winter

I hope everyone is having a wonderful winter holiday, if you celebrate, and enjoying the end of the year. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, I went overboard on the celebrations for the past couple of days. Craig and I spent our first holiday alone this year- while I definitely missed my family, especially my nieces first Christmas, it was nice to spend time with just Craig. I made a lasagna and some french bread for Christmas Eve; and a big plate of grilled bananas and homemade french toast for Christmas morning. I bought us some little treats for our stockings- organic chocolate bars, nuts, chapstick, and clif bars- so needless to say, I’ve been feasting (worst of all, on the Christmas cookies sent to us in the mail!) And I am feeling the extra sugar and fat sinking in…

So I’ve been thinking a lot about holding myself accountable and really motivating myself to exercise. I have shaky motivation to begin with, so this move to Northern Maine has really taken away all of my willpower. When it’s three below zero in the morning, it’s pretty hard to tear myself out of my warm sheets or out from behind my space heater to go exercise.

I came across this great article that really hit home- and it got me to go on a long walk in the snow after reading it (perhaps I should read it more often).

“10 Tips to Shut Up and Run in the Cold
As we creep into winter, here are some tips to keep motivated despite the plunging temperatures:

1. Be grateful: Stop your whining and remember that you can run. You get to run. There are many people too sick, disabled or injured to do what you are complaining about. Some people would kill to go just one mile in your frozen shoes. So, adjust your attitude fool!

2. Know that cold is easier than hot: Running in the cold can actually be less taxing on your body than running in the heat. Your body doesn’t have to work as hard to cool down and this can increase performance and energy.

3. Sleep in your clothes: If you are really desperate, sleep in your running tights and base layer. That way you don’t have to go through the extra step of getting undressed and dressed in the morning. You might get up easier, but I’m not promising this will do wonders for your sex life.

4. Get the right gear: Not only should you make sure you’ve got the correct cold weather gear for your climate (see HERE for some guidelines), but treat yourself to a new, fun, sassy running item (thongs might be inadvisable). Maybe this will make getting dressed and hitting the road a bit easier.

5. Have someone waiting on you: I’ve said it before, but there is almost no better motivation than to know someone or a group is waiting for you to show up for a run. Do you really want to be the pussy of the group?

6. Have a warm reward: Know that after your cold run, you will treat yourself to something toasty and warm like a latte, a hot bath or a cup of tea by the fire.

7. Remember the bad-ass effect: Not everyone runs when it’s cold outside. It takes stamina, balls and determination. Tell yourself that every car that passes you is impressed by your fortitude. You may be lying to yourself, but at least it can provide temporary motivation.

8. Know you’ll be less SAD: Research has shown that running in the cold can actually reduce symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Running can release feel good hormones that stave off depression, decrease anxiety and promote a general feeling of contentment.

9. Let your goal stare you in the face: If you are training for something, want to lose weight, or are simply just trying to stay in shape, write your goal down on a sticky note and put it on your alarm clock or bathroom mirror. Sometimes these little powers of suggestion can be the extra push you need.

10. Sign up: There are all kinds of short races throughout the winter time –Peppermint Schnapps 10Ks and Freeze Your Ass Off 5 Milers. Sign up for one just to keep your head in the game.”


While a lot of these, I have not tried- rewards always work well for me. A sweet, creamy, warm hazelnut coffee and a hot shower are heaven after an hour long trek ( I say trek because I only jog periodically- I’m afraid of breaking my neck on some ice) in the snow.

Also, some other good motivators-

1. Weight training: Any indoor exercise can be a lifesaver in the winter. Plus, building up muscles will keep you warmer. I like Jillian Michaels DVDs, especially 30 Day Shred and No More Trouble Zones.

2. Yoga: If I had a better humidifier, I’d do a hot yoga. There are plenty of great DVDs out there and Erin Motz on youtube is an excellent instructor. “Yoga Sequencing” has a number of sequences for all levels, if you’re interested in individualizing your practice.

3. Start a challenge! I’ve always wanted to complete a 30 day challenge, for something like Insanity or P90X. I have both programs and it may be something I begin for the new year.

4. Get a gym membership: I had a gym membership back in Maryland, but it was through my job and much, much cheaper. I would have to save up for it here and there’s still the chance that I won’t go because it’s too cold out. It’s better for me to exercise outside or at my apartment for now… but it could be the motivation you need to get movin’!

This post was an attempt at motivating myself to get excited to get in shape! I hope it inspired you. 🙂

Do you have any suggestions for motivation to work out when it’s cold?