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If you live in certain areas of the world (including the northern U.S.) the days can get bitterly cold and ultra-short during the winter months. This truncation of the daylight hours can wreak havoc on sleeping patterns, work schedules …and workout routines.

Cold weather can keep you from outdoor activities. It can also lead to bulky clothing and mornings spent shoveling the driveway as you try to extricate yourself and get to the gym. And that doesn’t even touch on the depressing experience of both arriving at and leaving the gym in the dark — regardless of whether you work out before or after work.

Needless to say, working out in the winter is tough, especially if you do so out of the house. Here are a few recommendations to help you stay active right in your own home as you work toward staying fit during the cold, dark winter months ahead.

Separate Your Workout and Living Spaces

People are always talking about “dedicated workspaces” these days. With remote work becoming ever more popular, those laboring on the homefront must make an effort to separate their personal and professional lives.

The same goes for fitness routines. If you blend your exercise into the rest of your life, it’s going to slip between the cracks sooner or later. Instead, make sure to dedicate a fitness area within your home

This can be in a heated garage or basement. It can also be in a spare bedroom or office. Whatever the case, try to find a separate space where you can focus on fitness on a daily basis.

Be Strategic About Workout Times

Carving out enough time to work out is always a challenge. In the winter, though, it can be more of an uphill battle than usual. Short days and lots of holiday-related interruptions can make it very hard to be purposeful about working out regularly.

That’s why it’s worthwhile to strategize before the cold weather arrives. Think through things like holiday breaks and shorter daylight hours. How can you mold your workout needs around disrupting areas in your life? If you take the time to plan ahead, you’re much more likely to keep things up over the next few months.

Get the Right Equipment

It’s tempting to keep your costs down by investing in no more than a yoga mat. And you can certainly maintain your fitness with basic items like these.

However, if you’re serious about working out, you may want to take things a step further. Some gyms offer equipment rentals. This allows you to bring certain items right into your home, such as dumbbells, an FID bench, and a pull-up bar.

You may not want to invest the cash in equipment. However, if you put some money behind your workout endeavors, you’re much more likely to keep them up over time.

Set Achievable Goals

When it comes to at-home workouts, it’s important to set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based) goals. These give you achievable benchmarks to aim for.

Just to be clear, that doesn’t mean you should hold yourself back. By all means, aim high and do your best to maximize your workouts, even at home. Eat well, stay hydrated, warm up, cool down, and so on.

As you do so, though, make sure that you’re able to reach your goals from time to time. That way you remain invested in your routines. Also, if you find that you’re getting tired of a certain routine, don’t hesitate to shake things up by switching to something else.

Get Accountable

Accountability is a key aspect of working out in general. Bringing a friend to the gym or going for a jog with another person are great ways to naturally push yourself to try harder.

If you’re going to work from home, you’re opting to remove that personal accountability from your life — at least in person. But you can still look for other forms of accountability to keep you on track. 

Ask another fitness friend or gym rat to text you from time to time. Sync up your schedules with someone else that you know is also working from home and then touch base with one another after each workout. You can even join a Facebook group and look for other like-minded individuals who can check in from time to time. Whoever you choose, make sure that they’re comfortable with checking in regularly and calling you out when they see you slipping up.

It’s very easy to wander from the straight and narrow when you’re working out at home. Don’t underestimate the power that a good accountability partner can offer.

Keeping That Sweat Up This Winter

There are plenty of ways to exercise during the winter. Even if you’re staying at home, you can still get in plenty of exercise on a weekly and even a daily basis.

However, you can’t count on your normal exercise routines to hold up under the pressure of the gloomy, short-lived winter days ahead. Instead, use the tips above to future-proof your workout plans, so that you’re in shape and ready to roll when spring comes around again.

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