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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I have an elliptical I use for super cold days. However, I usually at least take my dog for a walk. It's normally invigorating once I get going. (Besides, in SC, it hardly gets that cold. But, for a true southerner, anything under 60 is pretty chilly to me! lol) Report
I am so not motivated when it is cold! I live on the top of an icy hill which I must walk up &
down for work,have to shovel-find the whole thing miserable-yay summer!(fall,&spring) Report
I LOVE the idea of sleeping in my workout gear!

This winter, for the first time, I tried a "new" method for me. I paid for a once-a-month meeting with a personal trainer from Nov. 1st - Mar. 1st. The idea was accountability for lack of weight gain during the holiday season, learning new strength training methods, and hopefully losing a few pounds.

GOOD NEWS! It has worked! I got to the gym or worked out 6 out of 7 days most weeks. I lost 5 lbs (no gains!). And hopefully I've established some solid workout programs / habits. Report
Thanks for the idea to sleep in my workout clothes. It really is chilly in the morning and I don't want to change clothes twice : ) Report
I go to the gym and also workout at home. I do want to get more winter walks outdoors in. Basically I have to pick myself up by the boot straps, layer up and head out. Once I am outside i really enjoy myself. It's that darn door barrier that gets in my way sometimes, lol! Report
I 've been to all kinds of clubs and I have to say I would rather go to same sex gym Since I started doing triathlons I really appreicate the Curves system they have a computerized system that puts me in an endurance mode and the women there are great they just let me go, give me advice I can take or leave and I learn from them. It is really like a club. I can't imagine going anywhere else. It's just less stressful I never feel like I'm on display anymore and I can focus on my workout. Report
Outside workout in winter - NO WAY!! It can be 32 degrees, 10 degrees or any variation. Only outside workout is shoveling. Fitness Center/Gym for the colder months. Report
I love being outside! I wish I had an outside job! I rarely get to be outside with my work, so I just get out and go. For the last 38 years, on cold, dark, winter months, I go jogging at around 5 - 6 AM. It sure is harder in winter than in summer, but I do it anyway. It makes me feel great. I come home to a hot shower. It is a great way to start the day. I perform better on the job when I get exercise in the morning. I do not go out when it is icy, but I love to go for a long walk in fresh fallen snow. I will jog in rain, but as I get older, it is harder to get myself to do it.
Also, I live in a rural area. I love the quiet in the early morning. No one else is up yet. Report
I mostly work out indoors - temperature extremes are an issue with my MS Report
When I lived in Minnesota, I disliked outdoor cold activities. So thank goodness for the YMCA or I would have gotten no exercise in the cold. Report
I will be moving from Alabama back to my home state of Michigan. So, I appreciate all the comments. i will have to try some DVDs. I do like to walk. There is mall close by. I will become a mall walker when it's cold outside. Report

I do my workouts with the WII Fit and Plus...Just because it is cold outside doesn't mean I am broken.. :)~ Report
I hate cold weather, so I use my workout dvd's, treadmill, and jump rope a lot during winter months. :) Report
I become best friends with my elliptical machine. I don't do well in cold, never have, but I do love the heat! I will get out in the garden or for a walk/run when the temp is above about 45-50, which doesn't happen as much as you'd think in the Atlanta area during winter. Thankfully, our winters are quite short and we usually have at least 1 or 2 days a month that are warm enough to get out and really enjoy being outside. Report
I really like my DVD's!!! I brought them especially for the winter! I just cannot handle the cold but felt sluggish too being indoors all the time. So far it has been working for me!! Now I keep active all year long! Report
I absolutely detest winter, cold, ice and snow!! Always have,, cruel reality is that I live in Michigan, we don't get these Great Lakes from a giant hose!! LAst year was record cold and snowfall, so the most difficult thing I do is try to exercise after work.. I have a treadmill, stability ball, bands and hand weights, and a dog,,
If not for the threat of worse health, I could literally just crawl in bed all winter with a book and never go outdoors!
I bought some DVD's so maybe htis winter it will help... a white sandy beach with turquoise waves lapping at my toes wouldn't hurt either... Report
I L*O*V*E* Winter time -- it's when I come alive! You'll find me walking... roaming the yard... whatever... as long as its cold outside! Report
Well, it looks like a new season of cold weather is upon us, and I'm trying to imagine myself doing my regular swim time of 5:30 am on those sub-zero mornings. I also really liked the idea of wearing your workout clothes to bed, but that doesn't really help me with a swim suit(going becomes a little more difficult with a tank suit!). I'd appreciate any ideas that someone might have for those early morning swims. I love swimming and don't want to stop. I know I can go at alternate times of the day, but getting it done first thing really helps me. Hey!!...I guess that's my winter motivation!! I guess I just need some tricks...think I'll try the sunrise simulator alarm clock! Report
I live in a hot climate so it is never too cold to exercise outdoors, even though it might be chilly sometimes, but I have lived in places where it snows and when that happens, one just exercises indoors at home or at the gym depending on their preference.

The weather is never really a very good excuse to not exercise. :) Report
I live in the deep south, it doesn't get that cold here. My problem is going to be how to get out there when it's over 100 degrees in the shade. Report
Basically, I don't stay motivated. When it gets really cold, I become a slug. Report
I live in Wyoming and it is always cold and very windy. I try to walk in the mornings with a friend up at the mall for about an hour each work day and in the evenings I usually do about a half hour of my Wii-Fit and 15 minutes of the Fitness Coach. In the summer (the two weeks that we get that is warm) I try to do a lot of handyman jobs, mowing the lawn, landscaping, painting, building fence...so needless to say I usually get my exercise in that way. Report
I live in the Northeast (Boston area) so I hear ya on the cold! What motivates me in the winter is:
- Going to the gym is a way to get out of the house for a while, and we all know how house-bound you can feel in the winter
- I warm up when I work out, so I think of how much warmer - and more limber - I'll feel that shivering inside my house
- I look forward to a LONG, hot, post-workout shower! Report
Sign up for indoor sports leagues! It's always warm inside. Report
When I was young, I loved winter and would stay outdoors all day playing in the snow until my mittens and snowpants were frozen stiff.
But now I cheat and go to Florida for 5 months where I can walk in 75 - 80 degrees. Can also go to Exercise Room for cycling and other equipment. Report
I do BIKRAM yoga so I always look forward to getting to the studio and getting in that 105 degree heat and 30 percent humidity! Report
I usually go on my lunch hour...it doesn't give me a whole lot of time but at least I go and get 30 minutes every day. This also makes me pack a healthy lunch to take to work since I don't have time to stop. Report
I live in the midwest, and hate the cold! I work at home, and work out at home. I get my biggest cravings in the mid-afternoon. As soon as that craving hits, I hit the basement and work out with Jillian! She not only gets me fit, but by the time I'm done, the craving has passed! Report
The only thing that gets me outside on cold days is my dog. With her sad brown eyes imploring me to go for our daily walk, I just can't say no. But I dress warmly and wear a hat, gloves and a scarf for the extra protection.

We have snow covering most of our neighborhood sidewalks and I'm going to have to wear my heavy snow boots in order not to fall on my face. I think adding the weight of my boots, I'm getting an extra special workout! Report
I view it as "playing outside." As long as it's not icy out or subzero weather, it's just another beautiful day to play! Report
It is becoming easier for me to go and workout in the cold!!! I just get up and go as usual but I work out in a gym and it is not the great outdoors. Regardless of the weather, either you are determined to make a difference or you aren't Report
I find that going directly to the gym after work helps. I know if I go home I will probably end up not going. Report
I go straight to the gym too, I can't work out too much in my apartment. It makes too much noise for my downstairs neighbor. I can do some pushups, crunches, strength training type stuff, but I need the gym for cardio! It's much too cold outside!! Report
Honestly, I am more motivated and active during the winter months then the warmer months. After all, the more you move the warmer you get. Plus I don't do well when it's hot outside. I have a hard time breathing when it's too warm/humid. It helps that I have step children too, we make snowmen and snow angels. And of course the occassional snow ball fight. Plus I love ice skating! Report
Today it is freezing cold here in Atlanta but I was determined not to be swayed by the temperature and be motivated by the mission. If I allow every cold day to be the deciding factor in whether I exercise or not; then the devil will make sure it's cold EVERY DAY. This morning working towards results was all the motivation I needed. Can I do this? YES, I CAN!!! Report
Who needs motivation? The gym becomes an addiction that you can't wait to wake up for, right?! So it's cold at 5am...it's not going to be any warmer later. Rise & shine!!!! :) (Yes, I annoy my boyfriend too) Report
I live in a rural area and "home delivery" of the newspaper and mail is down the street at the bottom of a steep hill. It's 8 minutes round trip in the summer time, but it was more like 12 to 15 earlier this month when we got 12" of snow. Driving was out of the question - you could get down the hill, but not back up again. Report
We live in Canada and it can be brutally cold in the winter. I go in to the gym after taking my son to school first thing in the morning. That's the only way I can be sure that I will get my exercise in. If I try to do something else first then chances are I will get too busy and too tired then end up skipping my workout for the day. Report
For motivation I join in on several challenges here at SP. Making myself report in to other folks helps keep me going. I have found setting out my work-out clothes so they are all ready in the morning helpful - I may have to try the sleeping in them idea! Report
I force myself to go outside with my kids. They never complain about the cold and hearing myself makes me feel wimpy. So I just am determined to get moving and fun with them. Report
On days when I don't want to leave the house, I watch FIT TV and do one or two of the exercise. Today is one of those days (too cold to go out), so I did a Namaste yoga program (30 minutes) followed by an aerobic/tai chi/pilates program (60 minutes). I did this first thing in the morning before I had time to talk myself out of it! Report
I really like the sleeping in your workout clothes idea! I will have to try that one and see if it does help. Report
The sleeping in your clothes idea is great! Report
I love the tip about sleeping in your workout clothes! THANKS! Report
I used to live in Switzerland for 2 winters - and it was much colder there, but sunny - so I would just wrap up warm and go for a run/walk and it would be great for enhancing my mood (I suffer a little from SAD). Now I am back in the UK, I find the rain is even more of a challenge than the cold. We had a cold spell around New Year, but usually it is reasonably mild but wet, so you have to dodge showers all the time. I am training for a half-marathon, so can't work out too much indoors, so I put my running gear on and wait for that break in the clouds and head out as soon as I can. Report
hehe i slept in my clothes last night! it really motivated me since today was a rest day but i still wanted to move a bit! =D

thankssssssss for the tips!!! Report
I can't stand the cold weather and bore easily with the inside. I am starting to use a dance video and I like the idea of taking my clothes with me for a visit to the gym after work. I am also moving around at work and home more. Report
I must have a place or way to workout indoors, otherwise if I must walk outdoors for all my workouts they are too sporadic and I give up on them. But frankly, once I get over the initial shock of walking out the door, I do enjoy walking outdoors in the winter, and, when thinner and younger, I absolutely loved running outdoors in the winter. It's more of a mental thing for me, and feeling sorry for myself if I am obligated to go out on inclement days. I also have a Leslie Sansone Walk DVD that I like a lot. Report
I find it much easier to get up and out to the gym if I set a HUGE goal for the summer. Last years triathlon. This year marathon!! Report
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