Fall & winter fitness: Tips for keeping fit in the cooler weather & shorter days ahead

Talking Bodies

By Kimberly Blaker, September 2020 Issue.

When the weather turns colder, days get shorter, and sweaters are pulled back out of the closet, it can be a struggle to keep up healthy habits. During the fall and winter months, health and fitness routines often take a backseat to staying warm and cozy.

After a few months of hibernation and holiday indulgences, the pounds, lack of energy, and health consequences set in, reminding us of those long-forgotten fitness goals. It can be frustrating to feel like you’re starting back at square one. Instead of falling into this yearly cycle, read on for ways to avoid the fall and winter fitness slump and to keep focused on staying fit.

Find an accountability partner or group

This is one of the best ways to stay consistent with your fitness goals. It’s much easier to blow off a workout and curl up with a warm drink and blanket if you’re only accountable to yourself. Finding a partner or a community with similar goals is a great way to keep yourself on track. You can give and receive support, find ways to stay fit together, and remind each other of the benefits of keeping fit.

While in-person support is helpful, it isn’t always easy to find. But social media makes it much easier to join like-minded people in a virtual community. Do a quick search on social media sites, and you’ll find fitness groups for all levels and interests. These communities provide various ways to keep you accountable. They’re a safe place to share struggles and successes, provide moral support to one another, and share ideas or tips.

Join a gym or class

Another way to increase the odds of staying fit through the colder months is by joining a gym or fitness class. This requires a financial commitment, which may be an excellent external motivator.

Gyms offer many amenities to support fitness goals. These include personal training, a variety of equipment, and often classes you can explore for new ways to stay fit. Some fitness centers even have extras like childcare, rock climbing walls, saunas, and heated pools. Such perks may help get you out the door on colder days.

If you like to socialize, fitness classes are also a great way to find a community of people who share the same goals. There are all kinds of fitness classes and studios like dance, yoga, and CrossFit. Many offer trial periods. So if there’s a type of activity you’ve always wanted to try, you can do it with little risk and the potential for a big reward. Even many libraries offer free fitness classes.

Work out at home

Maybe braving the cold and dark sounds like too much, or working out with other people isn’t your bliss. If so, there are many ways to get in an effective workout at home.

Investing in a home gym is one way to stay active through the colder months. If you have space and money, particularly if other family members want an at-home workout too, purchase the appropriate equipment to fit your needs. It doesn’t need to be elaborate. Just a set of hand weights or a kettlebell can be enough to get you started if you don’t want to commit to large or expensive equipment. However, sizeable used equipment can often be found for practically nothing on Craigslist and elsewhere online.

You can also find thousands of exercise videos and written plans on the internet, DVDs, through your cable provider, or at your local library. There are also video game systems with fun workouts like the Wii Fit or dancing games. Whatever type of exercise or fitness plan you can think of, there are likely at least a few resources out there so you can do it at home. These include exercises with or without equipment. Many are designed for or take into consideration working out in small spaces or with limited time.

Keep it simple

If you’re starting from scratch or lack motivation, find small ways to incorporate healthy fitness habits into your daily routine. For example, take stairs instead of the elevator, park your car farther away in the lot, and go for a walk during lunch.

You can also start by taking an extra 15 minutes before your shower to do some quick exercises. A daily routine could include bodyweight moves like squats, pushups, and planks. These can have a significant impact on your fitness when done consistently.

Regardless of your fitness goals, you can stay on track throughout the colder months if you find what works best to keep you motivated and consistent.

Jack Russell Terrier and walker at nature

How about a hike?

Arizona is loaded with great trails for walking, running, and cycling. Many are dog-friendly, too.

Here are a few sites to help you plan your trek:

AllTrails.com

AZStateParks.gov

AZStateParks.gov

AZTrail.org

HikingProject.com


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