The New Year rolls around and with it so many resolutions to get in shape and work out more. However in many places in the country with cold temps and short days, we are picking a tough time to start a new habit! After traveling to warmers climates, enjoying runs with Ocean views, humidity keeping my muscles loose, not constrained by 18 layers clothing, I was seriously lacking motivation when returning to Ohio winter.
Anyone else? Especially now, with gyms and other indoor
fitness options limited, it can be a challenge to keep our
bodies moving through the colder months. But with shorter days, less exposure to sunshine and less social interaction, it is just as important for our mental health as our physical well-being to stay active. Though it can be more of challenge, there are several things that can make it easier to keep moving through the Winter months.
If you decide to get outdoors for your exercise, having the right gear will greatly enhance your stick-to-it-ness. I am a firm believer that getting fresh air is significant to our mood and mental health and encourage you to get outside if you can safely. There are apps where you can enter a few data points and you will be given suggestions for running apparel based on the weather conditions where you are. There are also several charts such as this one:
The general rule of thumb is to add 10-20 degrees to the actual temp and dress for that. However, you have to pay attention to wind and humidity too. It is a bit of trial and error mixed with personal preference. I run with two other women and between the 3 of us each Sunday brings some sort of Goldilocks scenario where each one of us is too hot, too cold and just right. Personally, when it is 35 degrees or below, I go with lined tights and wool top or 2, vest, windbreaker (if needed) and always a hat and gloves.
Evaluate your options
What is important to you when you exercise? Do you want a class to go to, family activity, a sport to play? A connection to nature? An adventure? A Stress release? Find options that you enjoy. Many gyms are closing due to spread of illness, but there are unlimited options for virtual classes: yoga, bootcamp, strength training, Pilates, (shameless plug: try Rise Strong Bootcamp! Book HERE) Love running? Make it work (motivation tips below). If running is not your thing, trying to start when it is cold and icy, may not be super successful. Skiing, hiking, skating, sledding, walking are all possible cold weather outdoor options. Brainstorm a list of as many possible, realistic options and tape it up where you can see it every day.
Setting a Goal Creates Accountability
Having a goal that you are working toward can give you a sense of purpose that gets you up off of the couch even on those dreary days. My running partners signed up for a virtual race where we collectively run 2022 miles in 2022. Once I am out running, I am so glad to be doing it, but getting out the door can be a challenge. Working toward earning those miles and doing my share motivates me to get going.
https://www.active.com/running/ has lists of virtual races by any distance. Your local running stores are also a great place to get information on upcoming events.
Whatever your goal, set up a system of accountability. I am a big fan of the sticker chart. I keep a habit tracker where I lists the actions that I want to take to meet a bigger goal. I find it pretty gratifying to give myself a check for completing each action.
Find a Community
Surrounding yourself with others who share your goals will help you stay active through the winter months as well. Whether it is a running group, setting a walking get-together with a friend, or taking your kids sledding, you are active as well as benefitting from social interaction. Committing to others will keep you accountable and give you something to look forward to. If in-person activity is not available or safe for you right now, the options for virtual classes are abundant. Commit to a class and you will benefit from a community working toward similar goals.
Staying active can feel more challenging in the Winter months but is just as important as ever. Find your activity, your people, get your gear and let’s get going.