Wintertime brings cold temperatures, darker days, rain and snow, so it makes sense that most Americans are retreating from regular exercise in favor of things like hot chocolate by the fire and other equally toasty activities.
But not you, brave warrior. Armed with these tips from fitness experts, you\’ll be downward dogging and burpee-ing your way straight into the New Year, while your stiff and sore friends will be dusting off their workout shoes for the first time in weeks come January.
Besides, there’s always time for hot chocolate — after your run.
1. Make An Investment
Maybe the cold is weighing a little too heavily on your mind. It could be because you’re not wearing the right clothes. Celebrity fitness trainer Lacey Stone recommends investing in a hat and hoodie to keep your head and chest warm, plus gloves.
“Buy the right workout apparel,” Stone tells HuffPost Healthy Living. “You don’t want to stop just because of the elements.” Plus, ear muffs and scarves have a serious cuteness factor!
Or maybe the investment isn’t in gear. Consider splurging on a personal trainer for a month of two. “You invest in a lot of things in your life,” says Stone. “Why not a coach?” Or sign up for a challenge: It could be a month of Spinning rides, a winter race or a competition at your gym. The Sweat Garage in Los Angeles, for instance, is holding “December Challenge” classes in which trainers will record your two-mile runs and reps on exercises like pushups, burpees and crunches. By the end of December, you’ll see some noticeable gains.
2. Make The Season Work For You
Corin Safe, an Olympic weight lifting coach who works at a CrossFit gym in Chicago, grew up in Minnesota and is no stranger to extreme weather. During the winter, Safe goes snow-shoeing, sledding and ice skating with friends — all the activities that are pretty much impossible to do any other time of year. Her favorite activity, though, is a simple winter walk.
“I am a huge fan of going on a walk, no matter what the temperature is,” says Safe. “Put on your boots and get out there. After 30 minutes, you’ll feel awesome, because walking reduces stress and promotes a little bit of meditation.”
“Plan one active outing for every holiday celebration,” says Elle Penner, MPH, RD, who works for the weight loss app MyFitnessPal. “While you’re adding those holiday parties and dinners to the calendar, pencil one active outing into your schedule as well.”
3. Take Stock Of Your Exercise Routine
Safe also likes to ask her clients to take a step back and mentally reassess their fitness goals. “What do you want to get out of it? How committed are you?” she asks. List the reasons you have for prioritizing exercise, and think about everything you’ve achieved in 2013. How are you going to keep it going or take it up a notch in 2014?
4. Think Ahead
Taking stock of your exercise goals also means forecasting ahead to sunnier times. Ryan Ford, who owns the Parkour gyms APEX Movement in Colorado and California, encourages students to train with their spring and summer goals in mind.
“What are your goals for spring or summer? Half-marathon? Tough Mudder? Parkour in Paris?” asks Ford. “Whatever it may be, training with that forward-thinking mindset can make [exercise] a little less depressing and a little more exciting. There’s no pressure now to perform or compete.”
5. Get Back To Basics
Winter is also a great time to get back to square one.
“Identify what you need to improve on and get stronger,” says Ford. “Now’s the time to do that for the longterm.” For Ford’s beginning Parkour students, that means mastering their own body weight with exercises like pushups, pull-ups, squats with no weights, lunges and hand stands.
“We’re all about training for useful fitness,” Ford explains. “I really see no use for bicep curls or leg extensions unless you’re a bodybuilder or you’re rehabbing a specific body part from injury or imbalance.” And that’s good news for newbies who want to get a jump on their New Year’s resolution: Instead of expensive gym memberships or special equipment, all you need is your body and the ability to count.