Can Your Exercise Habit Survive This Winter?

Nov 29, 2022 | Dr. Anne Shandera-Ochsner, HABIT Midwest Director | @dranneshanderaochsner | Comments (3)

With the holiday season upon us, our minds have turned to cooking, baking, shopping, socializing, gratitude for friends and family and traditions. But what about your exercise routine?

It's no coincidence that many people make a New Year's resolution to start or get back into a physical exercise habit. The colder temperatures, shorter days, and holiday preparations and events can reduce or flat out obliterate even a faithful exerciser's routine! But, that doesn't have to be your fate, with a little forward thinking. Below, I'll outline a few of the common exercise "de-railers" during the winter holidays and give suggestions on how to keep on keepin' on.

-Less Daylight and/or Colder Weather: For those of us (myself included) who enjoy exercising outdoors, one or both of these factors can really put a damper on things. But it's not time to stop! It's time to get creative about where you can continue your walking/biking/running routine indoors.

  • Do you have a shopping mall nearby that is friendly to walkers? How about a YMCA or other gym with an indoor track?
  • Check out YouTube for hundreds of free work-out videos to suit virtually any fitness level or activity.
  • Worried you'll get bored? Maybe it's time to find your headphones and purchase an engaging audiobook. Some local libraries even offer audiobook rentals or downloads for no cost. As an alternative, get a partner to go with you. The time will pass more quickly if you have someone to chat with.
  • Consider investing in cold weather exercise gear to keep up your outdoor routine. Remember to consider visibility enhancers such as reflective vests or lighted safety belts.
  • Stretch your brain by trying a new winter weather physical activity such as cross country skiing or snowshoeing!

-So much to do, so little time: Holiday festivities are fun, but they do take time that you previously were using in another activity, and they can be draining for some folks, leaving energy levels a bit depleted.

  • The key here is to SCHEDULE your exercise time the same way you would another important appointment. Use your calendar system and pick a specific time(s) in the week ahead for your physical exercise.
  • Protect this appointment with yourself and don't allow it to be bumped.
  • As above, consider getting an exercise partner to help hold you accountable.
  • If you find the extra social events tiring, be sure to plan your exercise to occur before the event or on a different day.

Finally, keep in mind that even if you don't exercise as frequently or for the same amount of time as usual during the holiday season, some is much better than none. Be kind to yourself, prioritize your time, and of course, have fun!

Comment below with your own tips on keeping up with exercise during the busy holiday months.


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Great article! I am addicted to my gym and go 6 days per week. I take Saturdays off. I enjoy the workouts and I love the socialization I encounter!


What motivates me to walk is the free book boxes ("Little Libraries") sprinkled throughout my neighborhood. Not that I need anymore books, but it is fun to take a look. Featured this past week was someone's DVD collection. My favorite find is Christmas Magic by Margaret Perry on the art of making decorations and ornaments. It is really on the lost art of making decorations while going to little expense. One never knows what treasure is steps away!


SWIM! I'm a Y member and a winter sauna addition to nearly daily swim. In northern Minnesota, our YMCAs are more than able to accommodate so many winter indoor activities. And as a bonus, a real community develops...exercise is great outside but so are indoor activities.

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