How to Make Sure You Exercise in WinterIt’s too cold. It’s too dark. I really like these blankets. Ah, winter — my season of boots, jackets and exercise avoidance. 

With all the comfort food, the extra clothing layers and the pull of the couch, it’s hard to find the motivation to exercise in the cooler months.  But cooler months inevitably become warmer months and summer is never forgiving. It makes sense to use the winter months to stay in shape ready for summer.

Here are some sneaky ways I manage to exercise in winter so that it doesn’t feel like a chore. I promise they can all occur after sunrise:

  1. Walk as much as you can. With the cooler temperatures and beautiful days, walking is such a pleasure. Walk the kids to school. Park the car a little further away if you aren’t within walking distance. Walk to your local cafe, shops, library and park. Every-time you get in the car, think about whether you could walk instead. The key is to dress warmly (think scarves, gloves, beanies and boots) and go for it.
  2. Use your sideline time. Rather than freezing on the sidelines during Saturday sport and training, organise an on-site exercise class with the other parents. A personal trainer could run it for you or you could take turns. If that’s not an option, doing laps around the oval while you talk to a friend will hit the spot.
  3. Join a team sport. Team sports are great for motivation. No-one wants to let their side down by not showing up. It’s also a fun way to spend an hour or so without it really feeling like exercise. Many local netball, football, basketball and baseball clubs run night tournaments if you can’t get there in the day time.
  4. Warm up inside. By warming up inside, you’ll feel better stepping outside. Just jogging on the spot for a few minutes should get your blood pumping and raise your body temperature enough to face the cold.
  5. Shopping cardio. I love the line in Sex and the City where Carrie spurs online retailers because “shopping is my cardio.”  Shopping centres are large. Shopping centres are warm. It’s a great place to walk briskly and get your heart rate up. You can also try some weight training by shopping up a storm. Not exactly cheap, but I’m sure it’s effective. Many of the larger shopping centres in major cities run walking groups you can join as well. No excuses!
  6. Join an exercise class with friends. I think the key to staying motivated is accountability. Arrange to do something fun on a regular basis with your mates. I am a fan of dance classes because they inevitably end in loads of laughs. And what’s better for the body and soul than that?
  7. Use an exercise DVD. If it’s just too cold to contemplate leaving the cosiness of your home, pop in an exercise DVD. I have a few belly-dancing ones which I love. The bonus being that belly-dancing in the safety of your own home is somewhat less inhibiting. 
  8. YouTube Workout plans. There are loads of great workout channels on YouTube. You can find a small round up here. Some also come with Facebook groups so that you can share your exercise wins together. It’s just a matter of finding the right program for you. But please be sensible – see your doctor before embarking on any new exercise regime and be very careful to check the credentials of the people running these plans.
  9. Family bushwalks and bike rides. Day trips to the beach give way to day trips in the mountains during winter for our family. Taking the kids out for a day of bushwalking or mountain bike riding is great for everyone’s fitness and another one of those sneaky doesn’t-really-feel-like-exercise options.
  10. Learn something new with your kids I’ve always wanted to learn self-defence, but I’ve never quite fitted into my life. As the boys get older, I know it’s something we could learn together. Likewise, I used to love ice-skating and my local rink runs classes for parents and kids. Learning something new with my kids, setting a great example AND exercising at the same time — mother of year award, here I come.

Before you start on any new exercise regime, it really is a good idea to check in with your doctor first. Especially if you have had a little one recently or you have been out of the game for a while.

How do you convince yourself to keep exercising during winter?

Try these ideas too:

Image: Getty