Working out in winter

If you’re usually a morning person, who wakes up when the sun comes up and exercises first thing – the onset of winter can give your motivation a real knock.


The darker, colder mornings, make it so tempting to hit that snooze button, and for a lot of people the struggle to get out of bed, especially to exercise, in winter – is real.

Those that live in colder climates will often talk about their ‘winter bodies’ as often we eat more, sleep more and exercise less during the colder months.  We know that exercise increases our endorphin’s, improves muscle mass, decreases body fat as well as decreases potential health risk factors. It improves our mental well-being and promotes productivity in the workplace, home life and general day to day activities.

However, in most circumstances winter also brings with it cold and flu season. Given that there is often a decrease in our health during this time, ensuring we are maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is paramount, regardless of climate.

We do however need to listen to our bodies and respond appropriately when we’re not feeling our usual selves – e.g. high temperatures, or a bit achy.

Sometimes the above or below the neck rule can apply; this means that if you’re only feeling symptoms above the neck e.g. a stuffy head, runny nose or sore throat, but the rest of your body seems fine – you should be OK to continue with exercise, being mindful of how you feel. You’ll probably find that you won’t want to go as heavy or as hard as you usually do and you want to listen to your body as you may fatigue faster than you usually would.

If you have a runny nose, it’s not the end of the world for your exercise routine, however you may want to take advantage of the opportunity to do some lower intensity or more relaxing exercises such as walking.

If you’re experiencing body aches, cold sweats or have a high temperature – then it’s probably best to rest up and recuperate, and consult your GP. Skipping one or two exercise sessions here and there isn’t an issue, but skipping a session and making that habitual could however be detrimental to your overall health, so once you’re feeling better, start to think about moving!

How can I stay motivated in winter?

  • Exercise in a group – stay accountable, it’s not as easy to hit the snooze button if you have someone waiting for you.
  • Swap your outdoor exercises for indoor settings, whether this be going for a run on a treadmill, joining some classes, or working out in your front room.
  • Try to exercise when it’s not quite so cold e.g. straight after work, rather than first thing in the morning.