Walking, cycling and running are always more comfortable in the spring and summer thanks to warmer and drier weather. But come the darker, damper and duller days of winter, it can be hard to motivate yourself to go outdoors.
But staying indoors, out of the sunlight, for too long is not good for your health. For many people, a lack of outdoors exercise causes Seasonal Affective Disorder, or worse still, depression. Research has shown that by going outdoors for as little as 20 minutes each day, whether for a stroll or to hike, cycle or run, can help to combat the winter blues.
The hardest part of exercising outdoors in the chillier months is getting off the sofa and out the door. Tell yourself that if you start walking, cycling or running and you really aren’t enjoying it after 10 minutes, you can turn back home. The chances are, once you’re out and exercising you’ll probably not want to stop.
You are far more likely to be active if you agree to meet a friend. Keeping the date is essential to most people so agree you’ll meet at a set time for a walk or some other kind of exercise.
Instead of a traditional get together for a drink and a meal in the festive period, why not meet for a walk and talk, followed by a coffee, a drink and/or a meal? You work up an appetite, burn off some calories and feel all the better for the outdoor activity.
Many people like a goal and at this time of year it can be particularly helpful. Aim to do at least 30 minutes of some kind of exercise every day for 30 days. You could extend this to 50 days or 60 days or whatever you feel is realistic and good motivation. Aim to get others to join you.
A landscape that is usually green can look so amazingly different when coated with snow or frost. Try to walk the routes you have been walking in summer but relish the new views in winter.
It can be energising and therefore motivating, to learn a new winter skill or activity. Try a winter skills course, winter navigation for walkers, ski touring, fat biking, or cyclocross.
Winter exercise demands clothes that are warmer and more waterproof, which means you might need a shopping trip! It always feels very motivating to have new clothes to wear for outdoors activity.
If the weather really is foul, move your planned outdoors exercise indoors, such as going to the gym, setting up your bike on a turbo or running on a treadmill.
One of the best ways to motivate yourself to exercise in the winter is to do so in the sunshine somewhere else. Check out some of the best places for a winter walking or cycling holiday.