Skip to main content
Family Files

Working Out Around the Winter Blues

Wintertime brings many difficulties. Wintry weather can be a deterrent to do things outdoors, and it can feel very unmotivating to want to do anything, especially with temperatures at freezing and snowfall being increasingly frequent. However, it does not mean that you cannot stay physically active; you just need to find some workarounds.

Exercising has many benefits and can help you beat the winter blues. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can help with mood, anxiety, and keeping your brain sharp. All of which is very much welcome during these times of social isolation and freezing temperatures. 

For many people, going to a gym would be the first solution to this problem, but that may not always be available. During uncertain times, some gyms are closed or have restrictions on how many people can be in the facility at once. Bad road conditions can also make it difficult to drive out and get a workout in.  

If you can go to the gym, then great! You are hopefully beating the winter blues. If you cannot, then it raises the question, what can I do? There are a few options in this case. Home workouts are a great first option. It allows you to stay in the comfort of your own home and stay out of the cold. They can include yoga for balance and relaxation, jumping rope for cardio, sit-ups, pushups, squats, and lunges as body weight exercises. Quick tutorials online can show you proper form and what to avoid when doing these exercises. Another benefit of home workout is that they require little to no equipment to get started and are a wonderful way to stay physically active when going outside is not an option for you. 

While it might not sound very appealing, going for a run or walk outside can get your heart rate up and prove to be great exercise. That is not to say go out when snowfall is heavy, the temperature is below freezing, or if the ground is very icy. When the temperature starts to rise a bit, and it is safer to go outside, an outdoor workout may prove to be beneficial. Being safe outside on a run is a top priority. It would be best if you were prepared to deal with the elements. Bundle up with a few layers, and take extra precaution to cover your head, hands, and ears as these areas can be more vulnerable to frostbite. Gloves, hats, and face masks will help to cover up these areas. 

Next, staying vigilant against hypothermia and frostbite can save you from injury. The Mayo Clinic’s signs for frostbite are numbness and a stinging sensation. Make sure you get out of the cold as soon as possible if you think you might have frostbite. The signs of hypothermia are intense shivering, coordination loss, and fatigue. Seek out medical care right away if you suspect hypothermia.  

The last thing to mention about workouts in winter is to stay consistent with them. The benefits of a workout are at their peak when they are done several times a week. Setting aside 30-60 minutes, 3-5 times a week, is an excellent way to stay consistent and get those benefits.

Hopefully, you can beat the winter blues with these tips for staying physically active. They can also help carry over into the spring and summertime to work out in much more pleasant weather.  

Written By: Kenny Kolke,  Family Life Intern, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, University of Illinois