Motivation to exercise during the winter months can dip as quickly as the thermometer.

It’s cold outside, the days are shorter, and forgiving wardrobe options (sweaters, athleisure wear, and jackets) can easily hide any weight-induced bulges. I have lived my entire life in a city that experiences cold weather, snow, sleet, and rain so, at times, I have had to find ways to motivate myself to exercise in inclement weather.

The following tips work for me on how to stay motivated to exercise in winter, and hopefully, they will work for you too.

“Strive for Progress, Not Perfection”

This is one of my favorite sayings because it helps me to move away from the mindset that every workout has to be an all-out, heart-pumping, sweaty 60-minute workout! There are plenty of ways to sneak in exercise, without hitting the gym. Continuing reading for more on this!

Commit to Doing Something Active Daily

If it’s a day that you’re in the office and are unable to fit in a traditional exercise class in your schedule or are just not feeling like it’s a gym day, strive to get in some activity by:

  • Taking the stairs instead of an elevator
  • Walking around the office during your coffee break
  • Doing arm reps with light weights when you’re on the phone
  • Walking to a destination instead of driving

If you’re at home, there are many ways to actively move your body:

  • Tackle some housekeeping chores – vacuum, sweep, mop, re-organize your pantry or closet, or all of the above
  • Garden (if weather permits)
  • Play games with your dog indoors (hide and seek, create an obstacle course, etc.,)
  • Periodically march in place, do some sit-ups, pushups, lunges, squats, and/or tricep dips
  • If you have stairs – walk up and down them while listening to your favorite podcast

If you feel like exercising but it’s too cold to leave the house, replace your trip to the gym with an indoor workout. There are many exercise apps and workouts available online at no cost or for a nominal cost and you can pick your duration of exercise time from as little as five minutes. Every little bit adds up. 

Use Motivating Factors to Set Yourself Up for Success

Maybe you’ve got good intentions to get to the gym or an exercise class the next day but when the morning rolls around, your plan always falls apart. Here are tips that can help you stick to your commitment.

  • Know your “why”. Write down “why” you are motivated to exercise. Perhaps it’s to lower your cholesterol, keep up with your kids or grandkids, or get toned for an upcoming summer vacation. Whatever it is, figure out your “why” and write it down. Keep it in a place where you can see it frequently such as on your phone or computer screensaver, a post-it note in the bathroom or on the refrigerator, or print it out and put it in a frame on your desk.
  • Prep ahead of time. Before you go to bed, set out exercise clothes or pack your gym bag for the next day.
  • Find a friend. Buddy up with a friend and commit to meeting at the gym or for an outdoor workout (jog/walk/bike/swim).
  • Schedule your exercise. Block off exercise time on the days you intend to workout and treat it like you would a work meeting or a doctor’s appointment. If something comes up, reschedule immediately.
  • Book exercise classes. Some exercise classes (such as spin, yoga, and Pilates) request people to book ahead of time to ensure that everyone gets the equipment they need or sufficient space in the studio. Book your exercise classes for the week and put them on your calendar.
  • Update your exercise wardrobe. Invest in some new workout gear – shoes, sweatshirts, tops, leggings, shorts, etc., Sometimes looking forward to wearing your new top is enough to get you out the door!
  • Stay accountable. Find a friend, partner, or wellness coach to whom you can report your progress or join an online group, use an app, or write down your workouts in your calendar once you’ve completed them so you can review your past progress as motivation.
  • Find an exercise challenge or create one. Another way to stay committed to your exercise routine is to join an exercise challenge. Find one on an app or website, at your local gym or exercise studio, or create one amongst friends, family members, or colleagues.

Give Yourself Grace

If there’s a day or two during the week where exercise just doesn’t happen, that is okay.

Instead of giving yourself grief for missing a workout, give yourself grace, and remember that tomorrow is a new day and a fresh start. 


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