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Top 5 tips for staying motivated to exercise in winter

Staying motivated to exercise in winter can be tricky.  

They say it takes 3 months to make a habit and only one day to break it.  So how do you keep up your motivation levels for exercising in the cold winter months?

Top 5 tips on continuing to exercise in the winter months:

  1. Make a plan

Rather than just promise yourself that you’ll ‘exercise more’, take a step back and start by recognising physical activity as a priority to maintain your health and independence.

Use your current diary or calendar (one new habit at a time!) and write down a starter goal; such as 10 minutes extra exercise each day for a week, and think about how to incorporate this into your daily activities.  

Developing a habit of exercising consistently is made easier when you can associate it with an existing routine.  Think about your daily routine, whether it be a morning coffee or afternoon tea. Why not try to exercise while you are waiting for the kettle to boil?  Place both hands on the kitchen bench and try some squats. Include this on your plan, as it all adds up.

Once you’ve made your plan, tell your family and friends and let them know that you may need their help to to motivated to exercise this winter. Verbalising your intentions encourages social support and external motivation; two factors that have been shown to greatly enhance exercise motivate and adherence.


  1.  Exercise with a friend

Exercising with friends can increase motivation and encouragement to not only get started on an exercise plan, but to stick to it; which can be tricky on those frosty winter mornings.

Social interaction has many great health benefits.  Connecting with others is known to enhance both your mental and physical health, as well as providing a sense of community and belonging.

Staying motivated to exercise in winter is especially hard when you live on your own.  Group exercise classes are a great way to get out, meet new people and stay motivated to exercise. Groups can give you the confidence to start your own exercise routine.

Make sure you have a few different ‘exercise buddies’ and include their names on your plan.


  1. Keep it simple


Exercising in winter doesn’t need to be challenging.  Make simple changes, such as rugging up with an extra jacket before you go walking, wear a woolly hat / beanie, or change the time of day you exercise.


Remove any barriers that might prevent you from exercising:  

  • choose the warmest part / most suitable part of the day for your lifestyle;  
  • consider activities (at first) that require no new skills; and  
  • find a suitable intensity for you or try exercising with people with the same fitness and mindset.

As bizarre as it sounds, the simplest way to increase your exercise is to not realise you are exercising at all.

Incidental exercise enables you to continue going about your day and not see exercise as a separate activity, but rather part of your usual routine.  Simple changes like parking your car further away at the supermarket and taking the stairs instead of a lift or escalator can increase the number of steps you take in a day. All this adds up with little to no additional planning involved.

  1. Stay active, indoors

Have you tried an indoor hydrotherapy class?  Exercise in a pool allows us to complete exercises in a near weightless environment, taking a load off your joints. The water however provides great resistance to help improve muscle strength.

If you can’t go outside, or the weather is not conducive to exercise, staying motivated to exercise in winter is even trickier.  To combat this, there are many activities you can perform in the comfort of your home.   Some of our favourite indoor exercises are:

  • during the ad breaks on TV do some ‘sit to stands’ (from your chair, stand up and sit back down, and repeat as many times as possible);   
  • while your bread is toasting try marching on the spot; or
  • put your favourite song on and walk around the dining table until the song finishes.
  1. Higher intensity exercise to keep you warm and healthy

A fast fix to get rid of those winter chills is to simply raise your heart rate! This assists in raising your body temperature, and is also an effective way to stay fit and strong.

Here are some simple high intensity exercises you can try at home:

  • seated or standing marching for 30 seconds – 2 minutes
  • seated or standing punches for 30 second bursts
  • step ups and downs on stairs for 30 second bursts
  • alternating side taps for 30 second bursts; and

Add a hill to your walking route, as it provides a higher intensity. Another great option to get the heart pumping is to use a weight during exercise.  A can of tomatoes works well!

Don’t forget to reward yourself when you achieve your goals!  Whether it’s a simple treat like buying some flowers for your home, going out for a coffee or for the bigger goals buying new walking shoes – give yourself a pat on the back.  You deserve it!

Keep track of the time you spend exercising and review this each week. Even small changes can have a significant effect on your outlook, your overall well-being and can keep you independent in the activities of your choosing for longer.

So what are you waiting for?  Remember; this is YOUR plan, and it needs to be suitable for you and your lifestyle. Start thinking about what you want to achieve, what you think would help you stay motivated to exercise in winter and the best way for you to achieve that.  

Start your plan TODAY! If you’d like to meet with an exercise physiologist from Mobile Rehab, get in touch and we will come to you and help you get started.



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