How to stay motivated to exercise when it's getting colder outside

For the past two weeks, I’ve thought about going to the gym, looked out the window and crawled straight back into bed.

There’s just something about cold and wet weather that doesn’t get the motivation neurons firing in my brain.

Even though I know that I’ll feel better post-workout (and besides, the gym is dry anyway) I just can’t bring myself to make the journey to and from the city centre.

But, as we all know, exercising isn’t just for the summer – when our serotonin is high and we’re fuelled by Vitamin D.

In fact, getting those feel-good endorphins from exercise is arguably all the more important in the darker months.

So how do you stay motivated to exercise when it’s cold out?

According to Gustavo Vaz Tostes, a trainer and fitness expert working with C4 Energy, there are a couple of ways to get your brain and body fired up. 

How to stay motivated for exercise in the colder months

Find your why

‘Defining your “why” for exercise will give you a personal and emotional investment in your goals,’ explains Gustavo.

It could be anything from an aesthetic goal, training for a particular sport – like running or martial arts – or simply for your mental health – but pinning down why you exercise is a great tool for motivation.  

‘Make a deal with yourself, whatever that is, and then from there on face it as any other commitment you have in life,’ adds Gustavo. 

Join a class or club

If you’re struggling to motivate yourself to exercise alone, joining in with an exercise class can help with accountability. 

Not only that, but it will allow you to meet new people and add some excitement into your workout routine.  

‘Switching up your fitness routine and getting involved in something different and more sociable, is likely to give you an alternative perspective towards exercise and be the motivation you need to get out of bed in the dark, cold mornings,’ says Gustavo.

Fuel up

When it comes to exercise, food is fuel – and eating right can help you feel better and perform better during winter. 

‘Since you need to generate more heat to stay warm in cooler temperatures, the right nutrition can help regulate your body temperature and provide enough fuel for your muscles,’ says Gustavo. 

‘Ideal foods are complex carbohydrates such as bread, pasta or cereals, consumed four to six hours prior to exercise.’

Have the right kit

If you need to go outside to exercise – whether it’s for a run, a walk, or a commute to the gym – having the right kit is essential.

You don’t want to be caught in the rain with no waterproof, or find yourself shivering on the way home from your class. 

‘While it may seem obvious, having good quality outdoor activewear can make a huge difference to exercising in the cooler, darker months,’ says Gustavo. 

‘Keeping warm should be a priority.

‘If you’re an early morning or evening runner, consider investing in some good quality (and reflective) activewear, such as thermal leggings, gloves, and headbands. 

‘This will help to keep your extremities warm as the cooler temperatures creep in, and significantly reduce risk of catching a chill.’

Warm up inside

Finally, before you attempt to work out in two t-shirts, a vest and a hoodie, make sure you warm your body up properly.

‘Try starting with some light reps which gradually build your heart rate up and get blood flowing to your muscles and joints, effectively priming your body to begin exercising,’ says Gustavo. 

‘Not only will this make you feel warmer and energised, it also significantly reduces your chance of injury.’

You can do this by skipping, bodyweight squatting or with star jumps – whatever floats your boat. 

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