Dark, chilly winter mornings can make hitting the snooze button instead of exercising all the more tempting, but waking up to work out doesn't have to feel like a chore.
Buy a room-brightening alarm clock to create early daylight or set your favourite energizing music on a timer to wake you and get you in the mood.
Prep the night before. If your bag is packed, your shoes are waiting, lunches are made and meals are planned, you're more likely to stick to your fitness program, says Kim Lavender, national director of team training at GoodLife Fitness. She recommends that you treat fitness like an appointment you can't miss. Whether you prefer to get moving in the morning, at lunch or after work, make time for it in your schedule—and stick to it.
Buddy up. Find a workout partner or join a group so you'll be more inclined to take part.
- Learn to love the cold
Don't let your love of outdoor walking, running or biking drop along with the temperatures.
Dress warmly—and strategically—for your activity. Choose sweat-wicking and breathable fabrics to wear close to your body, and wind- and waterproof materials for your outerwear.
Warm up. Cold muscles are more likely to get injured, so you need a dynamic five- to 10-minute warm-up indoors to properly activate the muscles. Tricia Kawahara, certified strength and conditioning specialist at Inspiration Training in Calgary, recommends incorporating moves such as low lunges with knee hugs, a lateral shuffle and dynamic toe touches to help you feel good before you head outside.
- Get cross-training
A change in weather offers an opportunity to change your workout. Challenge yourself to a new activity to use different muscles and improve your performance in your regular sport or activity.
Switch it up. "Hang up those running shoes and hook on the skis and snowshoes," says Kawahara. Snowshoe running, hiking and cross-country skiing are great ways to keep up your endurance while enjoying the winter and improving your cardiovascular health.
Head indoors. Work out at a gym to develop muscles you may have ignored with your summer fitness routine. "If you've spent the summer running," says Lavender, "make sure your hamstrings haven't become too tight, your quad strength hasn't overpowered your hamstrings and your glute power is still there."
Try yoga. If you're a runner in the warmer months, yoga can offer a chance to restore muscle balance in the winter, says Lavender. Plus, hot yoga offers steamy relief from the cold.
- Heat it up at home
There's no reason you can't get moving at your place. "There are tons of things you can do with very limited equipment and limited space that still reap the benefits of something more elaborate," says Lavender.
Designate a space for exercise or move some furniture out of the way when you want to work out at home.
Use an online video or an exercise DVD to help guide your workout. "Just ensure that you're trying something suited to your fitness level that's from a credible source," says Lavender.
- When to move it inside
Extreme cold isn't worth the risk, so before you head out, have a look at the forecast. A strong wind chill causes your body heat to drop faster and can lead to frostbite or hypothermia. Follow this guide:
|Temperature||Exposed skin can freeze in
|-28°C to -39°C||10 to 30 minutes|
|-40°C to -47°C||5 to 10 minutes|
|-48°C to -54°C||2 to five minutes|
Keep warm out there! Check out how to layer for winter workouts.
|This content is vetted by medical experts
This story was originally part of "Weather Your Workout" in the January 2016 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!