5 ways to stay active during the winter months

Published 3:49 pm Thursday, December 17, 2020

It’s that time of year again! The weather is getting cooler, the sun is setting earlier, and most of us become a little less motivated to exercise. Everyone has their own exercise style and routine that works for them. However, I think we can all agree how tempting it is to skip the workout when the temperature begins to drop. Here is a list of 5 ways to help stay active during the winter months!

1. Utilize your morning alarm! If exercising in the morning is your thing, here are a couple of things you can do: First, pick your favorite song as your alarm. It sounds simple, but choosing something upbeat can help get you excited to start your day. Second, DON’T PRESS SNOOZE. Science actually says that snoozing your alarm will likely make you feel more tired and groggy when you actually get up. Third, place your alarm clock on a table across the room and make sure the volume is loud enough. This way, you have to get out of bed to stop it and once you’re up, you’re a lot more likely to stay up.

2. Go for a walk during your lunch break! If you are someone who enjoys exercising outside, try taking a brisk walk during part of your lunch hour. This is a great option for those who work during peak daylight hours. As daylight-saving time comes to an end, 30 minutes in the middle of your lunch break is a great idea.

3. Be prepared! Pick out what you need ahead of time so you can’t make any excuses. If you’re a gym-goer, pack your gym bag and bring it with you to work. For a morning workout, lay out your exercise clothes and equipment the night before so you can get going as soon as you’re up. Pro tip: Lay the clothes next to a warm vent to ensure extra coziness

4. Build a support system! While some prefer to exercise alone, others find it helpful to have friends or family around to encourage them. It may look different during a pandemic, but it is certainly possible. You can start by finding a friend that has similar goals and has a schedule that works with you. Call one another each time you exercise to make sure the other is doing the same. If that doesn’t work, plan to meet up for your workouts for extra accountability. You will be far less likely to skip out if you have someone waiting on you. Especially during the winter and in a pandemic, joining a live exercise class on Zoom or Instagram are great ways to feel connected. You can also join Facebook groups such as the “12 Days of Fitmas” challenge to receive encouragement from others.

5. Being active at home! Exercising outside during the winter isn’t always the easy choice and going to a gym may not be an option for you right now. There are plenty of reasons why you may want to stay home and that is totally fine. However, you should not have to give up your fitness goals. There are many ways for you to exercise at home, whether you have a room full of equipment or just your own body weight. Body weight exercises can be done with no equipment at all and are a great way to work on aerobic and strength training. A few examples of aerobic conditioning could be marching in place, climbing the stairs in your house, or jumping jacks. Strength training using your body weight can include squats, planks, or push-ups. Simply type in “body weight exercises” on the internet and you can learn how to create your own at-home routine or follow a video tutorial. If purchasing exercise equipment is an option for you, I would suggest starting off with a stationary bike or treadmill and a set of moderate hand weights.

If it’s been a while since you’ve exercised, you have health problems, or are unsure of your health status, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Your doctor or an exercise specialist can help create an exercise program that’s right for you. Start slow, be creative, and listen to your body this winter season.

Cassidy Queen, RCEP is an exercise physiologist with the Vidant Wellness Center-Washington