How to break down barriers and build a successful winter workout routine

  • 2 Minutes Read
Joanna Kriehn
Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Short days, long nights, and chilly temps make building and maintaining a winter workout routine harder. But armed with fresh, breakthrough tips and a sample workout plan, you can create and maintain your fitness during this challenging time of year.

Winter workout routine

Ways to overcome common hurdles to stick with your winter workout routine

Obstacle: It's too cold out

Solution A: Invest in appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear.
Purchase moisture-wicking performance undergarments. Base layers made of nylon or polyester fabrics help remove moisture from your body to keep you warm. Next, make sure to wear layers instead of an oversized, bulky winter jacket. As your body warms up, stash the extra layer in a pack or tie around your waist. Finally, invest in waterproof footwear and choose moisture-wicking wool or wool-blend socks.

Solution B: Move your workouts indoors
Winter is the perfect time to experiment with home workouts. If you usually bike or run outside, try an indoor workout class such as spinning or HIIT. Modifying your activities helps you stay inspired and challenges your body in different ways, keeping your metabolism cranked up and your body injury-free.

Obstacle: I'd rather sleep in when it's dark and cold

Solution: Expect that you'd rather stay under the covers than get up and start moving. By accepting and expecting this hurdle, you can plan by building in some accountability for your winter workout routine. For example, sign up for an exercise class that requires up-front payment. If you miss the class, your money goes down the drain. Another way to create accountability is to work out with a friend. Then, if you cancel on your friend, agree to buy them breakfast or vice versa.

Obstacle: I'm a busy parent, I don't have time to exercise

Solution A: An obstacle encountered around the globe, not having enough time for planned exercise is a common challenge no matter the season. Talk with your partner and brainstorm ways you can each carve out more time for physical fitness. Try doing an on-demand workout over your lunch break or before the kids wake up. To help your follow-through, consider a personal reward system where you earn points for every workout you complete. After you've accumulated so many points, you earn a massage or another satisfying reward.

Solution B: Take family time outdoors
Winter-specific activities such as sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing, and skiing are perfect ways to build exercise into your family's winter routine. While you aren't likely to do these activities every day, you can consider them part of your weekend family time. Plus many of these activities are serious calorie-burners!

Here's a sample winter workout routine

Map out a weekly workout schedule that honors your preferences and time demands. To maintain momentum throughout the winter, make sure to incorporate fun activities such as a dance class or bowling. You're more likely to do fun, active things than go out for a cold jog at 6 A.M. every morning when the temperature is <20 degrees. If your activity schedule looked something like this, you may actually enjoy "exercising" this winter.

We hope these tips help you knock down some common barriers that may stand in the way of a successful winter workout routine. There's no reason that cold weather, snow, and short days should stop you from staying active this time of year!

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