By Mandy Vonderheid

It’s natural – it’s just a lot more difficult to maintain motivation to stay active during the long winter months! The temperatures drop and daylight is scarce, making it easy to want to crawl under some blankets on the couch instead of exercising. 

Don’t give in to the urge to hibernate – and don’t feel like you have to head far south to get in the mood to exercise! These five tips will help energize you and get you moving even when the weather is frightful.

  1. Have an exercise partner or group.

Working out with a partner helps with accountability, making it harder to back out of an exercise session. In addition, having a partner may even make you excited to work out, because you’re looking forward to seeing that person.

There are many ways to find an exercise partner or a group. You can join a fitness center and sign up for a class together; otherwise, a community center may offer classes as an affordable alternative.

2. Go swimming.

Swimming is a great way to stay active – and it’s a low-impact activity, which will also makes your joints happy.

Finding a pool doesn’t have to be difficult, either; many fitness centers, high schools, and universities have pools. Hotels may even allow people to come and use their pools for a small fee.

Don’t worry if you’re not a great swimmer. Just getting in the water and kicking around is a great form of exercise.

3. Go outside when the weather permits.

Though it can be hard some days, going outside is a great way to feel rejuvenated – and during the winter, it’s the only way to get some sunlight into your life. 

There is no shortage of fun, active outdoor winter activities. You can go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat-tire biking, or ice-skating. Some other fun activities could be sledding or building a snowman with your family. 

These activities may put you at a higher risk of injury, especially falling because of icy conditions, so be extra careful and dress for the weather and the activity. Also, be aware of the effects of cold temperatures and wind on exposed skin, and head inside when you feel too cold.

Finally, your skin can get extremely dry after spending time outdoors in the winter. Use lotion on your face and hands, and watch your heels for signs of painful cracking.

4. Do little things to add movement to your day.

Take the stairs, for starters. While this tip seems simple, it’s extremely important. Darkness and cold can make even the most active among us less so – and since we may be less active during these long winter months, taking the stairs instead of elevators or escalators will add extra movement to your day.

Other little tips to add movement:

  • Park farther away from your place of employment, church, school, or the grocery store (as long as it’s not too icy).
  • Pick an activity to complete during television commercial breaks, like jumping jacks, walking, or completing chores.
  • If you work in an office, request a sit-to-stand desk or take time throughout the day to stand up and maybe take a lap around the office.
  • Do calf raises. It’s the easiest exercise to do anywhere; during phone calls, while waiting in line, while brushing your teeth.

5. Sign up for a fitness challenge.

Your place of employment may start a fitness challenge in January or February. This is another great way to be accountable for staying active – and maybe get some nice rewards in the process.

Sign up to run a race, triathlon, ski race, or another event that interests you. This way you can begin training now with a goal in mind, making it more likely that you stick to your workouts.

Or it could be a personal challenge that you set up through a fitness tracker app or watch. (Which reminds me: the winter is the best time to start using a fitness tracker. Watching as you make incremental gains in activity and fitness can be a great winter motivator.)

These are just a few ideas to help you stay active over these winter months and add movement to your day. You can find many more suggestions online – or be creative and think of some yourself. Remember: physical activity doesn’t have to be high-intensity or sweat-inducing to be effective.

Physical activity is a great way to keep both your body and mind healthy. If you’re challenged by an injury, Stevens Point Orthopedics is here to help you get back to being active.