Poll: How Do You Stay Motivated to Work Out When It's Cold Outside?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Winter is in full swing, and even though I like January for other reasons, I can't stand the winter. I live in the Midwest, where we get our share of snow, ice, and below-freezing temperatures. And every season, I think to myself, "Who would ever choose to live in a place that gets this cold?"

The lack of sunshine depresses my mood. It makes me want to sleep for 10 or 12 hours a night, after which I still feel tired. Don't even get me started on my motivation to work out. In the spring and summer, the bright sunlight peers through my shades and wakes me up before my alarm, luring me outside for a morning run with a smile on my face. But the dreary days of winter really mess with my will power and energy levels. Yes, even I can lack the motivation to work out this time of year. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who struggles. So I want to know: How do you stay motivated to work out during the winter?

Personally, I do have a few tricks that usually help me work out, even on the coldest, darkest days. Here are my tips:

  • Go straight to the gym. I find that when I bring my gym bag to work and head straight to the gym—instead of going home first—I'm more likely to stick with it.
  • Get the right gear. I bought myself some workout clothes that are weather-appropriate: long workout pants (instead of shorts and Capri pants), lined pants (to wear on top of my workout clothes on my way out the door), long-sleeved performance shirts, and some fleece tops. Plus, new workout clothes always motivate me to use them!
  • Work out indoors. I rarely head outside for a run or a walk when it's cold out. Instead, I hit the gym, work out with DVDs, or do whatever I can at home. Lack motivation for home workouts? Enlist a friend or family member to do it with you and you'll be more accountable.
  • Sleep in your workout clothes. If you're a morning exerciser, it's usually cold—even in the house—when you wake up. The thought of getting out of bed and stripping out of your PJs to change isn't exactly appealing. Save the step and prevent the chill by going to bed in your workout attire.

How about you: What are your winter workout strategies? How to you stay motivated when it's cold or snowy outside?

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Thanks for this post! I'm in northern California so we're lucky right now, the weather is very spring like, but it's going to get colder soon and I've been dreading going out to walk the dog. But this inspired me to get a new outdoor walking/running jacket that's waterproof! Now I'm ready for the rain. Report
I use a combination of Leslie Sansone DVDs, elliptical and recumbent bike. All are conveniently located in our basement. I love the suggestion about sleeping in workout clothes. Great idea! Report
for me I just started spark people and recently took the challenge of loosing some weight since I did notice the gain. I ride the bus to go to work so since it is not comfortable waiting at one bus stop for 20 min or more I just challenge myself every morning and walk 5 bus stops down the road before the bus catches with me and I hop on. easy way to exercise during winter for me at least. It warms up too. Report
I have two different ways... 1st I have a treadmill in my living room and if it is just two cold outside I use it. I also walk to work every morning. I have rules for when it is cold outside and other weather conditions. My first rule (since i work with the public), if anything is coming out of the ) I don't walk and I did fiqure out on friday that single digit temps are my limit. I have cold weather walking clothes but it was just way toooo cold for me at 9 degrees. Report
The biggest part of my work-out routine, consists in driving my bike to work. It takes me about 40 minutes to get there in the morning, and 40 minutes to get back home in the evening. I do own a car, but I made a promise to myself to use the bike to go to work. It saves me time, because I don't have to go to the gym in the evening. And I have to go to work anyway, so that's a good reason to get outside and work out. And this way I get my fitness minutes five days a week (or four, if I have a day off). I don't mind the winter, except when it's slippery outside, because you have to be carefull not to fall. I have a great jacket I can wear summer and winter, with just a T-shirt underneath it. It keeps out the cold in the winter, but it doesn't get to hot in the summer either. And when it's really hot in the summer, I can just go out in my T-shirt. The cold in the morning is great to wake up and feel fresh before starting the day at work. Report
I live in Indiana, where the temps can be mild to down right nasty in the winter. Several years ago I wouldn't have stepped outside for running let alone any type of exercise during the winter. But for the past 3 years, I have joined a training program for a 1/2 marathon that is in May. So, we have to train during the winter. We meet 2 times a week as a group and the other scheduled training runs are on our own. This motivates me to get outside and run with the others. It is a very good support system. I now prefer running outside in the cold to running on the treadmill! Report
I am a morning exercise person. I also feel tired this time of year with lack of energy. If I exercise in the morning it kick starts my day. I also have children and they have activities that I need to go to and this modivates me to keep going. I alway make a list of things to do around the house to keep my body going even when I do not feel like it. I alway feel if I can make it until March then I will feel better when the days get longer and sun starts to shine. Report
Well with living in Minnesota, most of you know we went thru a major cold spell. When going to work at 8:30 am it was -30 here. I have used the cold to my advantage since I hate being cold so I would go to the gym to warm up and then leave there feeling great since I got a workout. Report
Working out is a great way to warm up!

I don't usually do cardio in the morning, saving that time for my strength training (I lift while watching the morning news) but do cardio a half hour after dinner as both a way to distract myself from the dessert impulse and to keep me warm for the rest of the evening. Report
I put on workout clothes and strap on my shoes. That gets me halfway there. The other half when I reaaalllly don't want to exercise is my Spark team and my online buddy system. It works extremely well, and I know I can go on and tell my team that I worked out despite not wanting to and they'll give me a cyber high-five. Report
I just go stight to the gym from work. I work midnights so if I go home and lay down I am not going to get back up. Report
My dogs do not care how cold it is out ... they need their run and to pee! Report
Do YOGA. Report
Try Bikram Hot Yoga in the winter. It is relaxing and will help you forget about the cold weather! Report
Last winter, I got a sunrise simulator alarm clock. It slowly gets brighter to simulate the sun rising. I know it sounds a little odd but I find that it helps me wake up easier and I'm not as grumpy in the morning. I also began taking 2000 IU of Vitamin D a day. While I still don't like the winter, these two things help to make it a little more bearable. Report
I hate gyms! I have to be outdoors. I don't feel safe running in the dark, so when it was dark 15 min. after I got off work, I quit. I gained nearly 15 pounds in 2 months! Now if that's not motivation! I recently set up my treadmill in the garage. It's cold, but not freezing, and on a sunny day, I can open it up and feel the fresh air. Also, the right clothing makes ALL the difference! Report
I work at a lumber yard and we are a wholesaler and i work all day outside whether its cold, warm ,hot outside. So it doesn't matter what the temps. are and i lift all day long and i walk all day too ! Report
Living in Southern California, it's usually the dark that I have to fight against. It's dark when I leave work and it's difficult to go home, change, and go back out into the dark. I'd much rather be curled up in my comfy clothes in front of the TV hibernating. Having a work out buddy really helps to drag me off the couch and into the gym. However, the days have been getting just a little bit longer, and we've been having incredible weather here which has really given me a mental boost. I've been going to the gym every day with a smile on my face! Yahoo! Report
I do my workouts in my home in the bedroom that was the boys room now vacant after my kids got marride and left home it is very cold in that room in the mornings so what I do is open the room door to let it warm up before I go in and do my workouts. Still a little chilly when I start my workout is ok, after warming up and get going on my TM I still have to use the fan on the TM. Report
Proof that I'm not a winter person started on the day of my birth! I was two weeks overdue.... and then joined the rest of the world. On GroundHog's Day.

That said, I have developed ways to be active inside the house during winter. Right now I'm doing a self-challenge, alternating walking through the house and then doing step-ups on the bottom stair to the second floor of my home. Anything that works ...works!!! Report
in the crap weather i am most successful by going directly to the gym afterwork. sometimes if i get the motivation to do a dvd at home i look outside and motivate myself to keep going because the dvd is not as bad as being outside Report
I will admit to feeling a little guilty for answering this blog. I live in Southern California and it has been in the mid-eighties all week long. Nevertheless, when it gets a little chilly, I alter my morning exercise to indoors (exercise CD's) and hit the gym in the evenings. Report
I started Christmas Day in the snow, I walked in the snow bundled up for 2 miles, and I've been walking 5 days a week 3-4 miles every time since then. I bundle up in really cold weather I wear long underwear,and my sweats, then I put 2 sweatshirts on and a pullover hoodie, then a windbreaker over that, and gloves. I just keep moving. Report
I love fitness classes at the gym anyway whether the weather is cold or warm, but shower at home so have to bundle up really well when coming out of the gym all sweaty in the cold weather we have been having lately. Otherwise on weekends I try to downhill or cross country ski, snowshoe, skate -- anything to keep active (a little hard to do in Florida I realize but no problem in Canada). Report
I workout at home. No gym membership...yet. I have some hand weights, an exercise step that came with a set of dvds from the Firm and a few dvds by Cathe Friedrich and Windsor Pilates. Only once in a very blue mood, when I get tired of looking at the walls and would like to see a tree (leaves or no leaves) I lose my mind and go for a long walk in the cold. And even then, the temperature better not be any lower than in the 40s. Report
I'm lucky enough to have a gym in my apartment building, only 4 floors above me. So when it's -20, like it is now, I can just go up there. When the nice days come around (like above -10, still freezing, but it's Canada) I walk to university, which helps my metabolism quicken because I'm not only exercising but trying to stay warm! Report
I live in WA state so we don't get a lot of really cold weather, but we do get cold and lots of rain. I hate winter and running or walking in the rain is not my idea of fun. I work out at home inside, walking, riding my stationary bike, and as heavy cleaning is cardio I do a lot of that as well. If I ventrue out I wear layers so if I do get hot I can take off the outer sweatshirt. Usually if my head and feet are dry and warm I am ok with some cold. Report
When I am having a hard time getting up from the couch because I'm nice and warm, I'll call a friend or family member that I know will probably talk for half an hour and I walk up and down my stairs during the entire call. Report
I just recently started working out in the mornings and have slept in my workout clothes - it does help to get things started! Report
Dress in layers; wear a sparkpeople backpack to hold your water and put your layers in as you get too warm.

Treat yourself to some new music on your mp3 player but ONLY let yourself listen to it while you're exercising outdoors.

Buddy up with someone with a tough exterior - someone who doesn't let the cold intimidate them - You're much less likely to back out if your partner will tease you about being a wuss. ;o)
I agree - sleeping in workout clothes helps so much! I live in SoCal where the Santa Ana winds have been picking up, and since I ride my bike to school (where the gym is), that is the hardest thing to work against. Luckily! There is a bus stop right by my apartment, so I have no excuse to not go early when I have a warm ride there =) Report
Its hard for me get out of the house in the winter. If i go to the gym I really dont like using there shower then I'm sweaty going into the cold. I know no excuses I try to tough it out Report
I know that when I work out indoors, I get really warm and work up a sweat. Knowing that exercising will make me feel warm is very motivating! Report
It gets cold in Florida, not like other places, but it goes in the 40's. I just put on a sweatshirt and know I will feel great when I do it. Report
Strategies I use are:

- Getting all my workout gear on before i do anything else.
- Open all the blinds and turn on all the lights in the house, to get as much light in as possible (this really helps improve my mood and motivation level.)
- Read at least one success story a day (sometimes on sparkpeople, but also on weight watchers and fitness and shape.)
- If it's too cold or rainy or whatever outside, I do workout videos. I have been doing coach Nicole's bootcamp videos daily, but then i also either do my Walk Away The Pounds video or Jazzercise video, or when i'm bored with those, I watch one of the many available to watch "instantly" on netflix. So i never get bored, there's always a new one to try.

However, I do prefer to workout outdoors (walking mostly recently) because being outdoors is much more motivating than my living room. I have realized that as long as I dress warmly enough, i can be quite comfortable, even when the temps get down into the 20's. I probably wouldn't feel the same if it was below zero though, like in some parts of the country right now!

- I also think it helps to actually put my sneakers on, and lace them up, even if i haven't yet committed to going anywhere. Once I've got those sneakers on, it's so much easier to just walk out the door. Report
bundle up &do exercises &gardening too Report
I struggle the most in the winter. I moved from Florida to Missouri three years ago and instead of easier, it gets harder! Report
For me variety is what keeps me going. Work days I have routine of getting up of doing boot camp and Pilates or Yoga in the morning. Cardio is sometimes at the gym or at home. Keeping a packed gym bag in the car does make it easy to stop at the gym when coming home from work. On the weekends I try to walk outside if at all possible, but weather conditions does take a part in my decision. Walking outside this week in 20 below weather did not seem very wise. So I will dig out an exercise tape or even going walking at one of the malls. Report
Hula Hooping keeps the smile on my face even in the cooooold Canadian winters. :)

It helps me to switch up a few songs on my iPod or buy a new CD. Report
Cross country skiing, downhill skiing is a blast and makes you look forward to snow! Great work outs, and lots of fun! Report
I bring my gym bag to work with me Mon-Fri and head over directly from work. I know if I went home first I wouldnt go. If my class starts later, I actually stay at work alittle longer or run errands, then go. Report
I work out at home...Mon-Fri I do Leslie Sasone Walk Away the Pounds 1 mile Walk DVD (My goal is to work up to the 2 & 3 Mile workout, I'm just starting out) and I also work out in Physical Therapy at the hospital (connected to clinic I work in) over lunch hour with a couple of co workers. I too live in the midwest (Deadwood, SD) and I'm fortunate enough to live close to work so I walk back and forth to work every day no matter the weather. On weekends if I don't do the Dvds then I walk to the store or post office and house work keeps me pretty active as well. Report
I work out at home or plan to work out during my lunch break (management has provided a small gym for staff). The important thing is to find out what ever motivates you to work out and focus on that. Report
Nicole, If you live where I think you do, I live about 4 hours Northwest of you. And the cold was brutal yesterday.

I don't mind exercising inside. Enjoy the short videos you have made and am doing the New You Boot Camp. We also have a stationary recumbent bike. I wouldn't be losing weight this month without it.
I do wii fit every morning then trying to go at least 5 days a week to the gym. Report
In order to consistantly fit exercise in I started this insane routine of doing what I call a "roll out" I don't sleep in my exercise clothes but when I roll out of bed at 3:15 am, wearing panties only, I head straight for the other room where I keep a good supply of work out clothes. Once dressed, I grab my keys and head for the gym. No more grooming, who cares--hardly anyone else insane enough to be at the gym at that time:) It works for me. Report
Sleeping in my workout clothes is absolutely KEY. Also, I work out on the elliptical at home, and I have to do it before I take my shower for the day, or I'll never do it later. Report
the gazelle, wii fit and my fitness coach. without those 3 things I'd go insane, I have a membership the gym but that's 7 miles from the house and I have no heater in the car so it's great to have a few fitness items at home. Report
The Wii fit and the fitness center! Report
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