Six Ways to Avoid a Winter Fitness Rut
Even the most dedicated of athletes are tempted to go into hibernation when temperatures drop and snow begins to fall outside, so don’t let this human instinct discourage you. Instead, let it serve as even more motivation to avoid a winter fitness rut. With just a few tweaks to your typical workout routine — and maybe a fresh set of running gear — you should have no trouble staying active this season. Here are six ways that you can remain motivated even when faced with frigid temperatures.
1. Get Outdoors
Again, it’s not unusual to want to snuggle up and avoid the world when winter roars into town, but perhaps the best way to fight this inclination is to attack it head-on. This means, instead of dragging yourself to the muggy gym, embrace the snow-dusted outdoors. There’s nothing quite like trotting through a winter wonderland to lift your spirits — even if you can see your breath. So consider taking up an outdoor sport this season, like running or ice-skating, even if it’s just one day per week and you spend the rest in the gym. This is a surefire way to avoid a winter fitness rut.
2. Treat Yourself to Fresh Fitness Duds
If you do decide to take your workout beyond the four walls of your gym, then you’ll need to dress appropriately for the chilly temperatures. The act of shopping for a new, comfy cold-weather workout outfit might be enough motivation to actually get you outside, pounding the pavement, and avoid a winter fitness rut.
When you’re working out in the winter, you should dress in layers. Start with a lightweight bottom layer with sweat-wicking properties. Next, protect yourself with a warm layer of fleece or wool. On mild days, this might be all you need. But when it’s extra chilly, add a breathable jacket that can stave off the wind and any snowflakes that might come your way.
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3. Pump Up Your Playlist
No matter the time of year, creating an up-tempo new playlist is a great way to get pumped up for a workout. The same goes for the winter season. Design a playlist chock full of your favorite oldies, current top 40 hits, EDM, and anything else with a good beat and enough volume to drown out labored breathing while you run. You can also leave the playlist up to an app like Spotify, which already boasts many pre-loaded playlists for running, lifting, cardio, and more generalized workouts.
4. Work Toward New Goals
One of the best ways to stay motivated, whether on the treadmill or on a snowy running path, is by setting a goal to achieve this winter. Perhaps you can team up with a friend or two and work toward a 9-minute mile by spring. Maybe you’d prefer to sign up for a 10K or a half marathon in a few months and spend your winter improving your endurance. Or perhaps you simply want to be able to make it through a hot yoga class without crashing halfway through. Whatever your goal, set it and commit to it for better winter workouts.
5. Don’t Overindulge in the Kitchen
‘Tis the season to sit on the couch sipping hot cocoa, drink dark stouts and overdo it with warm baked goods. Although you shouldn’t deprive yourself entirely, it’s important to keep things as healthy in the kitchen as you do the rest of the year. Just because tomatoes and blueberries aren’t in-season doesn’t mean you have to totally abandon farm-fresh foods. Instead of summertime seasonal ingredients, switch to a weekly menu that includes produce that’s flourishing right now, like root vegetables. From chicken chili to beef stew, let a crockpot full of veggies and lean protein be your source of sustenance this winter season.
6. Go to Bed Earlier
If you’re used to getting up early and hitting the gym before you head to the office, don’t let the dark winter mornings shake this routine. Instead, improve your chances of getting up on time by simply going to sleep earlier. Your body will naturally want to hit the hay earlier than normal since darkness falls just a bit after dinnertime, so listen to it. When you adjust your sleep cycle for the season, you’re more likely to fall into an easy routine with morning workouts, as well.
Now that you have a few ideas about how to stay motivated this winter season, you have no excuse to avoid the gym until March. Whether you decide to get outside and drink in the crisp, cool winter air while you workout or choose to commit to the treadmill, the most important thing is that you find a routine that works for you. That way, when spring rolls around, you won’t have to start from scratch with your workouts.
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