6 Jul 2015

8 Tips For Working Out In Winter

The winter months are here and when the days are shorter and the weather is colder and everyone walks around in big sweaters, it can be hard to find the motivation to workout. Since our bodies are designed to store more fat when it gets colder and because we tend to stay indoors more, it is important to stay active in these cold months. But don’t get discouraged by the chill, there are some benefits to working out in the cold weather that you don’t get during the summer. Every time that you work out, chemicals in your body, called endorphins, are released. Endorphins (aka the “runner’s high”) are the neurotransmitters that make you happy and since your body is working extra hard in colder conditions, more endorphins will be released, so you will feel slightly better after your winter workout! In addition, you will also burn more calories since your body is working extra hard.

There area few important things to remember when starting your winter workouts. First, be sure to drink lots of water. Although you don’t notice it as much as working out in the summer, you are still sweating and must keep your body hydrated during and after exercising. Next, you need to think about wearing layers. If you are exercising outside, your body will be going from hot to cold and cold to hot temperatures and dressing in layers will help you remain comfortable and allow you to adjust to the ambient temperature by layering up or down as needed. These tips are fine for the highly motivated individual who loves to get outdoors and exercise all year round, including when it’s cold, but how about those of you who struggle to garner enough motivation to work out in winter? Here are a few winter motivational tips that will get and hopefully keep you going this winter!

Get A Work Out Buddy

Having a friend to workout with is a great way to stay motivated. Now not only do you have a promise to yourself to go on a run or train, you have someone else expecting you to be there! When there’s someone there, there’s someone who will be let down if you don’t go – a good back up for when you really don’t feel like heading out. A workout partner can help challenge you by showing you new workouts, or encouraging you to keep going. Some people work out harder when they know other people are watching them work out. When you have a buddy, someone is always there to keep you accountable on those days when you want to skip a set. They also make the work out competitive and fun! You can take bets on who will finish the set first, or run the fastest. This is a great way for you and your buddy to have some friendly competition and move closer to your fitness goals.

Set Fitness Goals

On that note be sure you are setting fitness goals! A key step in setting goals is writing them down and telling others about them – studies have shown that you are more likely to achieve something if you write your goal down or share it with others. Make sure these fitness goals are realistic, but still push you. It is the winter season, so it is hard to find the motivation. Having workout targets will provide additional inspiration for you to keep going when things get really cold or tough. These days some people find motivation in taking before and after pictures. Those are great for long-term goals, but be sure to set short term ones as well. Something like time off your average kilometer run, or increased weight when lifting, or increased number of sets in your squats.

Time For New Gear

Now that you have your buddy and some goals, it’s time to get some clothing. Who doesn’t love an excuse to get new workout gear? That alone could motivate some people to get out and show off their new looks. You can’t wear those summer shorts and tanks while working out in the winter unless you’re indoors and crank up the heat. So it’s time for long tights, long sleeves, gloves, beanies and jackets. It is really important to get athletic clothing that will keep you warm, but also allow you to stay mobile. Compression clothing is a great choice for the colder months for those reasons and if it’s really cold where you are, they are available in thermal fabrics. In winter you also want workout clothing that will keep you dry. If you are wet, either from the rain or sweat, in the cold weather this could lead to you getting very cold. Activewear and compression with moisture wicking fabrics assist with moisture management and have been designed to keep you cool and dry. An outer shell jacket or windproof jacket can also be invaluable as they are lightweight and designed to keep you dry and keep the wind out. If you plan on working out when light levels are lower (e.g. early morning or late evening), be sure to buy bright colours and running or work out clothing with reflective elements, so that you are easily visible to other people and drivers.

Create A Schedule

It’s one thing to have goals but making a workout schedule will help you to stay motivated and you reach those goals! Make a schedule that’s realistic for you. Don’t just try and cram the workout in at the end of the day, instead consider waking up a little earlier and exercise then. As the days are shorter in the winter months, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of things that you need to finish before the sun goes down. Creating a workout plan will help manage that stress. It is good to keep your body on a schedule and will make it easier for you if you set aside some time each day to get a 30-minute workout, run or walk in. If working out everyday is not your style, try and work out at least three times a week for longer periods. Ideally you’d workout four times a week for a period of 40 minutes or more, getting your heart rate up to a moderate level (over 140 beats per minute).

Warm Up Properly

Warming up is always an important part of working out. However, since your muscles will be colder during the winter months, you need to give warming up some extra attention. Do not stretch until after your muscles are all warmed up. Doing this the other way around can cause pulled muscles or discomfort. Be sure to warm up first, doing some light cardio of your choosing, than after 5-20 minutes, take the time to gently stretch out all of your muscles before you begin the workout.

Try Some New Workouts

You have probably been doing the same workouts all season long, so it is time to mix it up! Winter is the best time to try something new and when trying new workouts, your body will thank you for it. Wake up some of those muscles you have been ignoring all summer long! Winter is the time to go to those classes at the gym that you have been too shy to attend, or to try some new workouts on your own – as they say, there’s no time like the present!

Switch Up The Music

Along with your new gear and workouts get some new tunes onto your playlist! Your brain loves hearing new sounds and new music will assist as a handy distraction on that last leg of your run or workout when the going gets tough (and the tough get going, as the song goes!). There isn’t right or wrong when it comes to workout music, whatever music you enjoy the most to get you and keep you in the zone. If you want to try something totally new, watch some videos while you are doing cardio, or even listen to some audio books.

Cool Down Safety

In the winter months a cool down is just as important as the warm up. Be sure to take it slow and stretch properly at the end. You don’t want to shock your body, so do a 2-minute cardio cool down and than do some full body stretching. Focus more intensely on the muscles you have just worked out. Consider also the benefits of wearing compression clothing post-workout to assist your muscles with recovery. Wearing sports compression has proven to reduce muscle soreness and recovery times.