I get it: It’s hard to muster up the motivation to exercise. Especially when it’s dark and cold outside and you’re cuddled up on the couch with a cup of Swiss Miss – or cabernet sauvignon – it can feel nearly impossible to do anything, except eat more.
But we aren’t bears and we shouldn’t hibernate. Health is still a thing November through… April? (Yikes.)
Figuring out a way to stay moving during the winter months is a challenge. But fear not, we’ve got options.
Don’t run away from the frost
If you’re a runner at heart and can’t commit yourself to a treadmill confined within the four walls of a fitness center, don’t. Instead, layer up. Now you may not see that shirtless, sweaty hunk or be able to wear your neon spandex shorts that you’ve sported all summer, but a pair of mittens and a hat will keep you warm, safe and doing what you love. Your feet are also susceptible to the cold, especially in slushy, snowy, conditions. Keep them dry with thermal or waterproof footwear.
Remember, there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
But while you’re outside, you could be wild and take up a winter sport.
Winter is a chance to take up sports that you can only do in the snow such as snowshoe, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and snowboarding. And the benefits of exercising in nature don't change with the seasons.
Outdoor workouts relives stress, restores your mental energy, and improves your overall well-being more than indoor workouts, according to various health studies.
The exertion of running on a treadmill expends less energy to cover the same distance than running across the ground, according to a study from The New York Times, mostly because indoor exercisers face no wind resistance, changes in terrain or elements of the weather. So exercising outside during the winter is that, but on steroids.
According to the same study in the Times, muscles are flexed differently while running outdoors and are used more than running indoors. A runner’s stride on a road or trail is more natural than on a treadmill. Ankles are flexed differently too, especially when going downhill, which isn’t easily done on a treadmill.
Outdoor exercisers work out for longer, according to Women’s Health Magazine, because a change in scenery helps make time go by and elements of exploration kick in.
Besides, gyms are predictable. They’re in a temperate climate and they’re not-so-scenic, to say the least. They can be intimidating and discouraging for the reluctant exerciser, not to mention pricey.
But if you’re someone who absolutely hates the cold, like me, and you’re wondering what you’re doing living in the Capital Region, (reasonable) gym memberships are a thing year round.
Stay inside and sweat
No, running to your fridge for a second glass of wine isn’t what I mean.
Going to the gym is a chance to try a new class, use new equipment or even get a personal trainer. Some memberships come with perks, like access to spray tan rooms and massage beds.
I'm a gym-goer myself, and they're a perfect place for people-watching and making friends. The natural competitiveness in a gym is another reason why I wouldn't want to take my workout anywhere else.
But don’t take it from me; take it from Nick Johnson, a 28-year-old strength and conditioning coach at Adirondack Nautilus on Dix Avenue.
“If you want to stay motivated in the winter, change it up. That’s my advice. That’s what I do,” Johnson said.
Johnson teaches classes throughout the week as well as trains people one-on-one.
“I’ll teach an extra class on Sunday in the winter because people will find a reason not to go to the gym at some point during the week," he added.
Johnson also uses social media to motivate his classes and clients, but he said at the end of the day, making people excited to workout is the key.
“People get bored so quickly, and if you keep your workout the same every day people won’t come. Keep it different and keep people interested. Change up your routine!” Johnson said.
If money is holding you back from a membership, Johnson’s a nice guy will give you training tips for free.
Do you feel it yet? Have I inspired you to lace up your Nikes or pick up a dumbbell? If not, that's OK. I won't lose sleep over it. But remember: one glass of red wine is equivalent to one hour of exercise.