Poll: Does the Weather Affect Your Motivation to Exercise?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I used to think that my exercise routine was unaffected by the weather. In the summer, I'd make accommodations to deal with the heat (exercising outside in the evening or early morning, shortening workouts, drinking more water, etc.) In the winter, I'd add a few extra layers and head out to battle the elements. After about two weeks of a big change in temperature, my body got used to it and it was no big deal. I can't say I love running in a sauna or a blizzard, but those things never kept me from activity- until this year.

So far in my area, this winter has been more brutal than most. There has been lots of snow and freezing temperatures. In years past, I started training for our local 1/2 or full marathon in January. So whether I liked it or not, I quickly got used to running in less-than-ideal conditions. This year I'm not training for the race (still trying to get back up to speed from my running injury in the fall), so my motivation to go outside for a walk or run is basically zero. (One reason is because I'd have to run in the dark when my husband gets home from work to watch the kids.)

You'd think that if I'm not going outside to exercise, I'd accommodate by staying just as active inside. But there's something about exercising outside that provides motivation I just don't get from being indoors. Don't get me wrong, I'm still active. I walk or run on the treadmill, and do workout videos regularly. But I'm not exercising as much, and it's certainly not as enjoyable as it is when I can get outside. If I didn't focus on the good feelings I have after I'm done with a workout, it would be very easy to become sedentary at this time of the year.

Need a little motivation? Check out some ideas for Hot Winter Workouts and Smart Ways to Stay Active this Winter.

What do you do to keep yourself on track and continuing to work toward your goals when it's cold outside?

Is it hard to keep your motivation going during the cold winter months?

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Think I need to move back to a place that doesn't have frigid winters. And hard winters require more money. Report
Yes, weather does affect my workout... but I live in the South and winter is the best season to workout, now summers are a big problem! A large portion of the American population live in areas where winter is the comfortable season. Report
The weather Ffects my motivation in a positive way

When it is cold I know I will be the only person out there walking just me myself and I and I just love that

I think this is my world all mines

Ok and my dogs but you get it

I also like to motivate others and leading by example Report
I guess we're pretty lucky, here in Idaho. So far, no snow, although a high of 21 yesterday and 10 low tonight, makes it a bit challenging. My husband and I put on thermal underwear, down jackets, hats, gloves, wool socks, etc. and get out there and walk our 10,000 steps in the morning anyway. Once snow comes, as I get older, I'm afraid of slipping and falling so we head to the mall, and get our steps in there. Any day we can be outside though, is so much better for my mental outlook--fresh air is an aphrodesiac for me. Report
Although there are alot of snow bird in Texas, but I used to live in Minnesota and I walked everyday with my dog for exercise regardless of how cold is was. However, I did move back to Texas for the warmth. Report
Why do you think there is so many snow birds to southern states. I need the sun to power my engine. It makes me feel better and I feel more motivated to do things. Nothing like the sun on your skin and in your eyes and on the world. Report
I was walking faithfully, then colder weather hit. 20 years ago, weather never bothered me. Now? A hot chocolate & staying under a Snuggie seems much more tempting. I used to think exercise videos were boring, but this winter, they seem like a Godsend. SO looking forward to Spring & getting back outside! Report
I enjoy the fresh air and nature, but when it is too cold, I just can't do as much outside. The cold air gets into the lungs and I have coughing fits. I melt in the heat so I try to hit in between. Report
The darkness affects me more than the temperature. I have a harder time in the thick of summer then right now. I have no problem burning calories in winter, too much fun stuff to do. Most people don't want to hear this but I have to eat more in the winter because I burn so much. Report
I am afraid of falling in the ice or snow. I don't want to fall and no one find me till I have turned into an icecube. Report
I am in the process of building a nature habitat around my home, so on the coldest days I have the MOST to do. Much as I would like to sit beside the wood stove and read, I have to bundle up and face the elements, check/fill the feeders and water sources, and be sure that homes haven't been destroyed by the latest storm. Sorry to say that it is guilt rather than motivation that gets me into my long-johns, but when I'm finished, I've done some serious lifting, carrying and walking. I do it for the critters, but I benefit as much as they do. Report
I don't like the weather extremes, I am first to say! Before I joined the gym, I went out walking/jogging in the mornings with many layers. In the past couple of years, winter has become more severe and I've become older.

I don't like this cold weather, but I still go to the gym though. Same thing about the extreme hot weather, I still go, but as far as doing things outside, not for me! Report
I HATE winter and its no secret. I would rather cuddle up with hot tea under a down blanket. However, I go to the gym instead of exercising outside... which gets boring quick. By the end of the miserable cold I'm ready to be outside again! Report
I hate winter. BUT that has no effect on my working out. I work out at home and there's no excuse for me not to work out and every reason TO workout. Working out gives me more energy, better sleep, I move around during a time where I tend to move less and staying more indoors. Report
It's too cold in the winter to exercise, since I like to be out doors, however I am doing my best to just go out and do it. At the end of the day, I am so happy I did :) Report
I have a puppy dog that needs to be walked every day usually twice a day except yesterday, after 15 minutes in -35 wind chill she was ready to come home and so was I. If I bundle up and check the weather to see what time the high temp of the day is, we can usually remain somewhat comfortable. I plan our runs around the weather and try to get them in when it's not so freezing cold. The other days, we walk. The really cold days like the last 2, I spend more time on the stationary bike and treadmill. And there's always strength training! Report
I hate cold weather. Report
I do all daily exercise at home, exercise bike, rebounder, and free weights. Can't use the "weather" excuse at all. Report
If it's cold or hot or rainy and I don't feel like going outside I put on a WATP tape and follow it with one of Coach_Nicole's 10-minute videos. It certainly isn't the same as being outside and I don't get the wanted high, but it gets my body going and I'm proud of myself for keeping up with my program.
Yes, I hate cold and snow and no sunshine for days at a time and basically hibernate in the winter. though being in the blizzard zone last night we spent over an hour or more shoveling today which I hate but keep telling myself how many calories I am working off. Report
I voted that the weather could ruin my motivation, but that is only partially true. I work out less in the winter because my main form of exercise is fitness classes, which can get cancelled if it snows, ices, etc. I find that I am most motivated when I work out with others so even though I do have workout videos to do at home I don't find them as fun and am less likely to exercise if I can't go to class. Report
It's not the cold that stops me from going to the gym. It's the snow. My work out time consists of shoveling snow! Report
I dislike going outside in the bitter cold and exercising. I never seem to get warm afterwards. The only time I like to be outside in the bitter cold and snow is with the kids, when we go sledding and ice-skating. They make it fun! Report
I am a season person, like having 4 and always appreciate when its time to move from one to another, hot to cold and cold to hot. I do prefer working out however when its HOT and HUMID and days are long. As we get further and further into winter, I have to push harder and hard to get out the door. Report
Weather doesn't affect my workout - I use DVDs almost exclusively. I only run/walk outdoors in the nicer months or when we're camping (and then the weather CAN hinder me - I won't go in the rain!). Report
I hate going to the gymn when it's really cold out. It feels so awful to have your hair freezing up after the shower. Report
Yea, the weather affects if I want to go out and exercise. But nowadays I exercise indoors. I've never really liked running, and I tried to do it, but it wasn't for me. I read those articles that do be successful you have to do something you like, so running was out! I do a lot of pilates/yoga videos, and they seem to be working for me. Report
Frankly I wish there were another option--does the hot weather make you cringe and want to skip your outdoor run. Report
I'd have loved it if there was a third option, something like "Winter weather motivates me & invigorates me & really gets me going." I voted "No" because I do better in the winter than in the summer. Report
I signed up to run my first half marathon in March because without a goal I wouldn't be very motivated to run outside in cold. Setting goals helps me to stay focused year round. Report
Well, let's see...I got about 2 hours of exercise this morning (combined strength training and cardio) digging my car out, shovelling the drive, digging my car out on the street x3 trying to get out of my subdivision. I'm beat! Report
Definitely. If it is either too hot or too cold, my motivation slowly goes down. But that's exactly why I have a gym membership. Having a controlled environment to go to means I only have to convince myself to deal with the weather in the amount of time it takes me to walk to and from my car! Report
I live in Saskatchewan, where winter seems like it lasts 6 months. So, if I waited for warmer weather I might not ever leave home! There are some days when it hits -35 or -45 that doing an outdoor activity is not an option. However on the warmer days I get out with either the kids or the dogs. I actually like shovelling snow, so I see that as an opportunity to get in some exercise and see the results of my work. As well, something I just came up with for my 5 yr old son who loves dinosaurs...I hide a few of his plastic dinosaurs in a mound of snow and then we have a dinosaur dig. He loves finding the dinosaurs and pretending he's a dino hunter! For the days it's too cold outside I do my exercise videos or challenge the kids to Just Dance on the Wii! Report
Yes, I'd much rather stay cozy inside and I mostly do. I miss my daily walk with my husband in the coldest, messiest weather, although that gets replaced with our snow shoveling together. But I mostly exercise inside anyway, so winter weather doesn't really interfere with my routine. Report
Ive tried to make it not effect me but if i cant drive i cant go the gym so now i pop in a dvd or play the wii. Report
If it is -30 celsius, and colder, I'm not so inclined to go out to exercise. I will go to the local pool, or exercise in the house. My husband does ski, in all sorts of inclement weather. Report
With weather highs of -20-30C and windchills pushing the temperatures into the low -30's and mid -40's, going out to exercise is totally not feasible for me. Leaving the gym with wet/damp hair and hitting a cold car...sitting for 5-10 minutes while it warms up is not a health smart idea. However, I have had lots of exercise shoveling the snow, and then digging out after the plow throw street muck into carefully cut walkways through the snowbanks has made it an interesting winter here in Winnipeg Report
I do wish I could run outdoors this time of year, but my lungs have a lot more to say about that than my fingers or toes! Luckily, my favorite winter workout is snowshoeing, so a big blizzard is just extra motivation!! Report
I'm a Sping/Fall type of outdoor exerciser...can't handle extreme cold or hot temps! ;o) Indoors 4 me during the extreme times! Report
Yes!! DH has the car during the day so I walk to the gym with my baby in a stroller. When it's nasty outdoors we just don't go. :( I usually try to make up for it by doing a DVD inside, but I get my best workouts at the gym. Report
No, the weather does affect my workouts at all. I walk in the rain if I feel like being outside. I just dress for the weather. I either exercise at home or at the gym. I use to find excuses, but not anymore. I look forward to working out and doing different things to keep me from getting bored. Just do it! Keep it moving! To keep on losing! Report
Weather doesn't affect my ability to work out at all. I've always worked out at home and right now am getting into a better rythym than ever... I use Leslie Sansone's dvds. Come better weather I'll add an extra walk in around the block (2xs is a mile).. and push my son in the stroller. I enjoy being outdoors as much as possible, but it isn't necessary for my workout. Report
Colder weather has thrown me for an exercise AND eating loop. I am less motivated to exercise, especially when it's dark out and the change in available (affordable) veggies and fruits has been challenging to me. Report
I wish I didn't, but weather definitely effects both my ability and my desire to workout. Part of it is that in the winter it's cold and dark and I just want to shut down, maybe curl up on the couch with a book and some cocoa or tea and lots of blankets (though one benefit is that if I work out I'm not cold, so that actually can be motivating on cold mornings). But a big part of it is that the activities that I most enjoy--things like swimming, tennis, biking, roller blading, etc., are definitely seasonal activities for me. I do like some winter sports--I had a lot of fun sledding and ice skating this winter, for example, but they are not something I can do every day like I can summer activities and I have cold induced asthma so I have to be very careful about activities outdoors after the temperatures drop below about 50F. I still work out in the winter, but it's much more limited--exercise dvds and the treadmill and elliptical at the gym--, not nearly as interesting, and I don't tend to burn as many calories. Report
IT IS SO MUCH EASIER to exercise in summer. I can walk earlier, while it is still cool. Garden chores need doing, also in morning. By mid afternoon, the heat is chasing me to the pool & more exercise. Spring & Fall are a bit harder, but have either planting or harvest chores, and a pool 2 days a week, and a walk possible sometime of nearly every day. But winter is another matter, especially this one. Extreme cold broke pipes in the college pool I use, keeping it closed 7 weeks instead of the usual 2 over Christmas. Now, temperatures are so low it is life threatening to walk, even well-covered, and very risky to drive the 25 miles to the pool, even if roads are not icy. I am reduced to indoor videos and 20 minutes most days at our local clinic's exer-machines. At home a warm blanket, books & computer call me to sit much more than other seasons. Longing for spring, here! Report
I just change venues... I have fun looking for different ways to exercise... (It's not all muscle building) but it still is fun! Report
I am still motivated in the winter, but that is probably because I do the same exercises all year long. I just have the extra benefit of walking and running outside, but still utilize workout DVDs, the gym and my treadmill to get my workouts in. Report
Since rain, not cold, is the principal winter barrier, and we have rain 8 months/year, if it affected my motivation, I'd be dead. I DO exercise inside more than out during the wettest times, but I'm no less likely to exercise in bad than good weather (no more likely to exercise in good than bad, either, alas). Report
Yes, I am affected by the cold weather. I even joke about being in hibernation. A friend of mine has recently got involved with snowshoeing and I'm seriously thinking about joining in. Report
My gym has a steam room and a hot tub, which I allow myself to use only if I've worked out. What a great reward for myself in the winter (in Minnesota)! Report
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