Ben delivering session in the gym

5 Useful tips on how to stick to your exercise routine in the winter months

Ben Jarvis, personal trainer at Ravelin Sports Centre and a member of our Health and Fitness team has put together some useful tips to help you continue with your good exercise habits and routines during the colder months, particularly over the Christmas period.

During the winter months it can be incredibly easy to lose motivation because of the cold weather. Snuggling on the sofa with a blanket and hot water bottle seems so much more appealing than trekking out in the cold to train in the gym, booking onto a fitness class or going for a run. We promise our facilities are warm, but we get it. This is where habits and routine play their part. Once you have a solid routine that you stick to, it becomes second nature to incorporate exercise into your life regardless of external factors like the time of year and the weather. In the same way we consider going to work, or picking up some groceries from the shop essentials, healthy habits and routines can train us to view exercise in the same way. You may be thinking to yourself, why would I worry about this now. It is much better to start building habit and routine in December than January - and your more likely to stick to your routine than drop off with the rest of the January starters.

Planning ahead is vital in ensuring you are able to create good habits and stick to a routine. Starting is the hardest part, so if you’ve already got a good routine, your halfway there. If you are yet to start, don’t let the challenging first few weeks put you off, once you’re in the swing of exercising it becomes much easier. So, what can you do to ensure you adopt healthy habits and stick to your routine over Christmas and the cold weeks that follow?

What can your plan/checklist look like?

Monday - Gym class/cycling
Tuesday - Upper body workout in the gym
Wednesday - Swim
Thursday - Stretch/Yoga/rest
Friday - Lower body gym session
Weekend - parkrun/rest/socialise/walk

This is just an example, different types of exercise may work better for you, or you may prefer to do the ones listed in a different order. Just make sure you come up with a plan that you think is achievable and works for you, otherwise, you will be less likely to stick to it. If you struggle to create plans that will help you to achieve the results you want, you can book a consultation on the UOP Sport app with one of our health and fitness team who can discuss personal training and training plan options. Our UOP Fitness app can also help you to keep track of your progress whether you are using our brand new Technogym equipment in the gym, or going for a run.

1. Factor in specific times to exercise on your chosen days

It’s sometimes not enough to simply decide on a day for each of your workouts, we can quite often get so caught up in other things that you may end up sacrificing working out as it seems unachievable in amongst all your other jobs. A simple way to tackle this problem is deciding on exact timings on all of the days you’ve planned to exercise. Whether you prefer to get up a little earlier and workout before work or your lectures because you know you won’t want to at the end of your day, or if you’d prefer to exercise during your lunch break, or any time after work, do what ever works for you. Not only will this provide you with a solid routine, it will also allow you plenty of time to pre-plan e.g. making sure you have your training clothes in your bag the night before and your alarm set to allow you plenty of time to get ready and get there. You could even pop an appointment in your calendar - so you prioritise and make time for your workout.

2. Be held accountable

One way to ensure you are held accountable when you try to sneakily cancel last minute is arranging to exercise with other people. Whether you have a gym buddy who will be expecting you, a climbing partner who could do with you cheering them on or a friend who you run along the beach with, by agreeing to workout together you are essentially relying on each other to be there. This means, if you do cancel, you are not only affecting your own routine but their’s too. 

An alternative to this is getting involved in group exercise. As you probably know, we offer a whole range of group fitness classes. By booking well in advance, you are more likely to commit to going each week. If you start attending classes regularly, you may start to recognise those who also attend regularly and also become more familiar with the instructors. This can also help to push you out of bed or off the sofa and into your trainers, as you know other people are expecting you. As a minimum - simply tell someone when you plan to workout, they may even ask to come with you.

3. Tackle bad habits

Habits are absolutely the key to this and are the difference between nailing your routine and it all falling apart. You know your good and bad habits, so it’s important to either work around them or use them to your advantage.
For example, if you know you get up every morning and sit around for an hour before you get moving, why not use that hour to get moving earlier, that way you have less time to think about it and talk yourself out of it. It also means you can get your exercise ticked off early and can spend any other spare time relaxing. In the time you take psyching yourself up to take on the cold weather and get out there and exercise, you could already be halfway through your run, walk or fitness class. Remember the idea of exercising on the days when you don’t feel motivated is usually worse than the reality and you will most likely feel much better once it’s done.

Another easy way to incorporate exercise into your day is looking at the ways you travel, whether it’s to work, to pick your kids up from school, visiting friends or anything else. If you are in the habit of driving short distances, why not switch your car out for a bike or a walk. This way you are killing two birds with one stone.

4. Don’t be too rigid

Although we’ve spoken about having a checklist, sometimes being flexible is necessary. If you usually attend a fitness class that lasts an hour and you simply don’t have time one day, why not switch it out for a 30 minute class, walk or run? This way you’re not abandoning your routine entirely, you are making up for the exercise missed and continuing to be active which will undoubtedly have a positive impact on your motivation.

5. Use our showers

We’re all being squeezed financially with the cost of living increases and bills increasing in price. Come to Ravelin Sports Centre and have a workout and use our hot water before you start your day. It’ll help you feel great and save a few pennies on the hot water bills. Settle in with your morning with a coffee in the cafe before you venture out again safe in the knowledge you’re set up for your day.

We hope these useful tips will help you with your routine and continue with your fitness journey during the colder months. You can find our opening times during the festive period on our Finding us and Travel page. Remember not to be too hard on yourself over the Christmas period, you deserve to have some time out and the chance to relax and unwind.

If you would like a training plan to help you with your routine you can book a consultation today.