As we wave goodbye to the summer, you may be finding it harder to keep up your exercise routine. Darker days and colder weather means getting out and about takes a lot more motivation than it does during the warmer months. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many of our clients struggle to keep active as the nights draw in.

Cold, wet weather doesn’t mean you have to sit still all winter; there are plenty of ways to motivate yourself into moving more. So today I’m sharing my top tips to help you stay sprightly over the winter period.

Phone a friend

It’s easy to talk yourself out of exercising, but if you make plans to exercise with a friend you’re more likely to keep to it. Not only is working out with someone else more enjoyable and sociable, you’re less likely to let them down – earache can be a great motivator!

It’s worth buddying up with someone who has the same exercise goals as you, and who is normally motivated to workout – that way you won’t feel intimidated by what they can achieve and you’re less likely to talk them out of exercising!

Make a plan

Writing your exercise sessions into a diary – whether that’s on paper or on your phone – formalises your intentions, meaning you’re more likely to stick to your plans.

Another helpful tip is to add fitness goals into your diary, so you know what you’re working towards – for example ‘run a 10k’, ‘beat a personal best’ etc. By adding your goals, as well as your sessions, keeps in mind what you’re working towards, so you’re more motivated to get up and get moving.  When plotting your goals, it’s better to make them incremental – if you start out with just one massive target, it can actually put you off.

Go indoors

Exercising outside during the winter months can be cold, wet and dark – not something that is enjoyable. Exercising outside in the dark can also be off-putting for safety reasons – whether perceived or real, exercising indoors can be a perfect way to ensure you stay active.

The most obvious indoor choice is to join a gym – many gyms offer shorter term or no contracts, you just need to ask. Joining a gym is also a good way to ensure you get a full body workout. If you’re a cyclist or runner, spending some time in the gym can help improve your strength and stability. And it’s not all about working out – you can run, cycle and even swim at the gym!

If you don’t fancy something formalised, there are plenty of videos online with games and activities the whole family can get involved in, and the NHS website has short workout videos that you can do in your own home.

Class Act

Many gyms, leisure centres and community hubs run a variety of classes – from yoga, to spinning to Clubbercise. Some gyms don’t require you to hold a membership to attend classes so you can just ‘pay as you go.’ Like exercising with a friend, formally booking a class acts as a catalyst to get you out and about

Dress to impress

We’ve all heard the old adage, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing,” and when it comes to winter workouts, this definitely rings true. Being cold or wet when you exercise isn’t pleasant and can give you an excuse to cut your sessions short. You don’t need to splash out on expensive kit, many supermarkets stock good quality sports lines. During autumn and winter make sure you have gloves, a hat, waterproof and warm layers – especially if you’re exercising outside. Children, elderly people and those with underlying health conditions can feel the cold more and become unwell quickly – always make sure people in these groups are properly dressed appropriately for the weather and temperature.

Club together

Another way to keep motivated is to join a club. This could be a running or cycling club, an after-work football meet-up, or a Sunday afternoon sports session. Joining a club isn’t just group motivation, it makes exercising a fun, sociable experience – great if you’re new to the area or have a child who needs some motivation to get moving.

Safety first

Whatever the weather, or time of year, it’s vitally important to be prepared for what the weather is going to throw at us. Always make sure you look at the forecast and dress/carry clothing that is appropriate. Carry a space blanket with you if you’re exercising or undertaking any activity outdoors, especially if you are off the beaten track.

Cold weather puts a strain on the vascular system (your heart and blood vessels), so if you have an underlying health condition or haven’t exercised in a while, choose to exercise indoors when the weather is icy and frosty.

If the ground is wet, slippy or icy, be careful – a slip, trip or fall could keep you off your feet for weeks – not great when Christmas is just round the corner. If you, or anyone you are exercising with, becomes cold/wet or can’t feel their fingers/toes, get them to a warm, dry place – if they become disorientated or unresponsive, call the emergency services.

Enjoy yourself

During autumn and winter, when it’s harder to motivate yourself to move, why not choose an activity you really enjoy doing? This way exercising won’t seem like chore, but will become a fun, relaxing part of the day.