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How to stay motivated to exercise in winter


Remember summer? Going for a jog in a cool breeze felt, well, a breeze. Heck, we even went swimming. “Oh, I’m DEFINITELY going to keep this fitness thing up over the winter!” we said. 

But now? Now, it’s No-fun-vember. Grey, windy, wet… running just doesn’t have the same appeal. And sod swimming, we're constantly damp anyway.

Enough! We've lost our exercise mojo but these tips will get it right back for us. They’ve all worked for Stylist.co.uk contributor Katharine Busby at some point this autumn, so try one, try four – try them all...

1. Be careful who you follow

Instagram can be a place of great inspiration to keep fit – in summer, you merrily followed every green-juice-swilling, pilates-by-the-pool-practising healthy bod you could find. In winter, this gets trickier. A lot of those yoga types seem to have endless money and spend their entire winter in the sunshine too. When it’s blustery outside, a tanned Sydney-sider will only make you feel jealous and sad, sending you straight for the hot chocolate.

Try to find accounts of local people who are working out in similar conditions and at similar times of day to you and you’ll feel far more inspired. 

Try this:

Frankie Holah is a personal trainer in London who left her nine-to-five job to pursue her passion for fit, healthy and strong living. 

A photo posted by FrankieHolah (@frankieholah) on

Lunges and Lycra is a website by fitness enthusiasts Charlotte Thomas and Emma Lax for women who like "sweating and the odd nip of gin".


A photo posted by Lunges and Lycra (@lungesandlycra) on

Swedish fitness blogger, Faya, is based in London's West End and constantly shares her workout tips, fitness fashion suggestions and healthy recipes.

2. Have an answer for every excuse

We all give ourselves reasons to not exercise. My favourite is convincing myself I have a cold, which is definitely nearly almost possibly could-be flu.

Listen to your excuses – then give them a positive spin... 

Try this:

Excuse: "It's grey outside"
Tell yourself: “But it’s not raining!” Or maybe it is drizzling. Then you think, “It could be snowing!” 

Excuse: "It's too dark"
Tell yourself: "I'll do an inside-based workout today, and plan a run outdoors at the weekend when I can go in daylight."

Excuse: "I think I'm getting a cold"
Tell yourself:  "But I haven't got one yet – and a cold comes from a virus, not from a gentle jog."

3. Pay yourself with new treats

Reward yourself – if you get up and go to that 7am spinning class twice in one week, give yourself a prize. Decide on your reward at the beginning of the week – it might be a new book or something more indulgent such as a massage. Make sure it’s a prize, though, and not something you know you would have bought anyway.

Try this:

Pineapple trinket

Pineapple trinket pot, £9, grahamandgreen.co.uk

Topshop bracelet

Topshop tassel bracelet, £8.50, topshop.com

Pip mug

Pip studio, £10, johnlewis.com

4. Update your workout wardrobe

Updating your kit for winter needn’t be expensive but if you want to get outside to exercise and the cold is the main thing putting you off, some choice accessories will really help. Being warm enough makes a massive difference to your chances of leaving the house; I have a pair of Adidas running gloves that, due to my cruddy circulation, I have to wear from October to April. I also have a Nike Therma-Fit headband. I can tell you now, I look utterly ridiculous in it, but it keeps my ears warm – and definitely encourages me to get out even on properly chilly days.

Try this:


Nike Thermal Ladies Running Headband/Glove Set, £15, startfitness.co.uk

Adidas jacket

Adidas response wind jacket, £42, adidas.co.uk

5. Maximise your music

Still got those “I went to Ibiza (yeah, ok, Cornwall) in the summer” tracks to move to? A reboot is essential. Don’t worry if it’s not the cool, hi-energy stuff; put on something you haven’t heard in ages that’s likely to keep you going. Snigger all you like but some of the most successful ‘get up and go’ songs currently on my iPod are listed below.

Try this:

Better The Devil You Know, by Kylie Minogue 

Born This Way, by Lady Gaga

I Really Like You, by Carly Rae

Encore, by Jay Z / Linkin Park

Jump Around, by House Of Pain

6. Eat for success: swap potatoes for root veg

So, you’re planning to get up early and go to the gym. Excellent. What’s that you’re having for dinner? Sausages, mash and a couple of glasses of red? You’re never going to get to that gym in the morning.

Annoyingly, eating wisely really does help with exercise motivation. If you wake up feeling sluggish, it’s twice the battle.

root veg

As personal trainer Lindsay McCubbin, explains: “Changing your diet from starchy and high-sugar foods to more protein and seasonal root vegetables will increase your energy levels, giving you the lift to want to exercise. Make healthy soups and up your protein intake with nutritious casseroles and stews.”

7. Ignore the cake-pushers

There will always be people telling you not to go. “Oh, you’re crazy!” they’ll say when they see you in your exercise gear. “It’s nearly Christmas, come and have a coffee instead.” BE STRONG. These people – friends, colleagues, countrymen – mean no harm (although sometimes they may be a bit jealous of your commitment) but they can send you right off track.

cookies fitness

Resist! Resist!

8. Make a 10-minute deal with yourself

When you really don’t feel like doing it, agree with yourself that you’ll just do 10 minutes. 10 minutes on the cross-trainer at the gym, 10 minutes’ running, it doesn’t matter. If you really want to go back under your duvet after those 600 seconds then fine, but you’ll be amazed at how often you don’t.

And you don’t even need to leave the house, as Chris Kirk of CKElite Personal Training explains. “You can invigorate your body and release your happy hormones with just a quick HIIT [high intensity interval training] workout at any time of day.”  He suggests doing 20 seconds of each of the following exercises, with a five-second rest in between, for a total of 10 minutes:

Star jumps (example video here)

Squats (example video here)

Split Lunges (example video here)

Squat Star Jumps (example video here)

Jumping Jacks (example video here)

After doing this mini routine, you’ll likely feel inclined to do more.

9. Get ready to disco

OK, you’ve tried it all and you’re still not feeling it. But this one is so easy and even (genuinely) fun.

- Download 30 minutes of your favourite dancing songs on your iPod

- Close the curtains (or not – whatever floats your boat)

- Dance like an idiot

You don’t even have to put trainers on, but it’ll get your heart pumping and warm you up.

Good luck!

Images: Thinkstock



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