The Top 7 Strategies to Stay Motivated for Exercise During Winter

Written By: Brenda Agwalama (Accredited Exercise Physiologist)

During the winter months it can be especially more difficult to remain consistent with your exercise program. As Accredited Exercise Physiologists we are passionate about the role of exercise in improving health and quality of life; while also recognising the important role that exercise plays in the treatment (and prevention!) of chronic disease and injury.


One of the most important variables associated with unlocking the benefits of exercise is consistency!

In this article we explore strategies you can implement to remain motivated and consistent during the winter months – when many other people may have trouble!

1. Create a Habit
One way to create a habit is through context-dependent repetition. This is the act of forming a habit by performing the same activity in the same contexts over time, for instance attending a dance class every Tuesday after work.

Another way of forging a habit can be through using specific cues indicating that you’ve made plans to exercise. The goal with this is to develop an association between a cue and an activity.

For example, your cue might be bringing your gym bag with you to work on the days you intend on exercising after work and your cue might be going to the gym after work. Over a span of repetition, it should become instinctual to change into your gym clothes once you’ve finished work.

2. Shift Your Mindset
During winter it’s common for people to use self-talk such as “I feel lazy in winter” “I would rather stay in bed” or “It’s too cold to exercise” which is unconducive to establishing a habit or reaching a goal. Instead try shifting these thoughts to more conducive thoughts, like “I haven’t found an exercise routine that suits me yet, but with time I can.”

3. Create a Schedule
Give yourself time to find a winter routine that works for you. After each week, reflect on what worked and what didn’t work and why it didn’t work. From here, you can continue to modify an approach that suits you best. For example, if you plan to go to the gym in the evenings in winter but go home first and settle down, consider taking your activewear to work and then heading to gym straight after work.

4. Listen to Music
Listening to motivational music prior to engaging in physical activity has been shown to increase arousal levels in the exerciser. Additionally, it has also been found that stimulative music can distract from pain experienced during exercise. Furthermore, music can provide significant positive effects for exercisers in terms of lowered perceived exertion and more efficient oxygen utilisation. Implementing music, as well as podcasts or audiobooks can be great tools to increase exercise enjoyability.

5. Set a Goal
Goal setting can be motivating, but only if those goals are realistic. If you’re unsure about what’s achievable for you, seeking help from a health professional such as a personal trainer, exercise scientist or exercise physiologist can be helpful.

Your goals don’t need to be big to be valid. Being able to do grocery shopping without requiring rest is just as valid as running a marathon. In addition, using fitness trackers, such as an app on your phone or a smart watch that can monitor your workout can be used as a motivational tool to help you achieve your goals, especially on days when motivation is low.

6. Exercise with a Friend
It can be challenging to stay motivated when you exercise solo, exercising with a friend not only makes exercise more fun, but it holds you accountable, meaning that you can expect to see an improvement in your exercise compliancy.

In addition, having an exercise partner or joining a sports team can be a great motivator to stay active. Belonging to a group that you feel connected to and that you identify with can really help keep you going.

7. Do Something You Enjoy
Avoid engaging in exercise you don’t like, for example, if you know you don’t like weight training, commencing a new weight training program during winter isn’t ideal.

Remaining motivated is hard enough, even in the absence of winter demotivating from exercising. Ensure you are participating in a type of exercise that you find fun.

Exercise is designed to make you feel good, not drained, and regretful about moving your body.

If you require some assistance in staying motivated for exercise during this winter, our team of Accredited Exercise Physiologist are here to assist. Motivation and accountability are a vital component of the improvements we see in clients. Call us today on 99857 3007 to discuss how we can support you.