Motivation for Exercising in Bad Weather

by Fit After Fifty
A woman stretches her legs outside on a cold day

As much as we may feel like it, we’re not supposed to hibernate once the weather turns dreary. For motivation to exercise in bad weather, read our tips, indoor activity ideas, and ways to bring the outdoors in.

Motivational Tips

These tips will have you in the mood to exercise in no time.

Get in the Groove Before the Weather Turns Bad

Summoning the motivation to start a new exercise regime when the weather is bad is more than most people can handle. Plus, sunshine is much more motivating than gray skies.

Get in the habit of working out while the weather is still nice so that you’re more likely to keep it up when the weather changes.

[Related: How to Strengthen Your Willpower & Motivation for Fitness After 50]

Plan Your Pre- or Post-Workout Breakfast

Plan your workout breakfast the night before so you are less likely to cast about for something to eat in the morning. When you start off your day in “healthy mode,” you are more likely to continue it by not skipping your workout.

Program Your Thermostat

Getting up out of your warm flannel sheets can seem impossible when the house is cold. Set your programmable thermostat to heat up the house 15 minutes before you wake up so that you have one less excuse to hold you back in the morning.

Protect Your Skin

A dry, tender, chapped face and lips are enough to make you avoid your next winter workout. Apply a serious winter hydration with SPF regularly throughout the winter to protect your skin from the cold.

Find a Workout Buddy

There’s strength in numbers, so get a workout buddy. Even if some days your schedules prevent you from working out together, just agreeing to check in with one another will keep you both going strong.

Plus, social fitness is much more fun!

Join the Fit After Fifty community!

Invest in the Right Gear

Invest in some good outdoor gear. Modern technology has created some very breathable rain jackets and pants. Also think about a hat with a reflective stripe for safety, or some new running shoes as a promise to yourself that you will put them to good use.

Prepare Your Gear Ahead of Time

Set out all of your workout clothes, water bottle, and gear the night before. Pack your gym bag and set up whatever equipment you’ll use so that it’s calling your name when you wake up.

Layer It On

Before heading outside, dress in light layers. Despite the cold temperatures, your body’s temperature will still rise during exercise. With a heavy coat and a single layer under it, you have two choices  — hot or cold.

Layers will trap heat so that you stay warm, but you can remove one layer at a time for more precise temperature regulation. Avoid cotton, though, because once it gets wet, whether from sweat or precipitation, it stays wet and pulls warmth from the body.

Also remember that your fingers and toes are the first to get cold due to your body’s natural response to send blood inward to keep your vital organs warm, so keep them covered!

Write Motivational Messages to Yourself

Write yourself messages with reminders of how good you feel after a workout, pics of yourself at your fitness best, motivational quotes, or the many health benefits of exercising. Include your greatest reasons for working out.

In the morning, pull one message out at random and surprise yourself with your workout inspiration for the day!

Warm Up Indoors

If you’re planning on working out outside, warm up indoors first. Keep in mind that your body takes longer to warm up in the cold weather, so be patient and give it time before you go all out.

Create a Workout Playlist

Set up a fresh workout music playlist in advance so that you have new tunes to get you jazzed.

Embrace the Cold

The cold may make some of your favorite outdoor exercises impossible or less enjoyable, but it also opens up the opportunity for many seasonal activities! Embrace the cold and enjoy a number of winter workouts, such as skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and ice skating.

Give Yourself a Reward to Work Toward

Print out a picture of the great holiday outfit you will reward yourself with, that awesome new bike, or the entry form for that spring triathlon or Tough Mudder race you have been meaning to enter. Keeping your eyes on the goal (literally) can help maintain your motivation and focus.

Indoor Fitness Ideas

Our last tip for finding the motivation to exercise in bad weather: Don’t.

Avoid the weather altogether by exercising indoors!

Work Out at Home

You don’t have to leave your home to get a good workout in! When it’s too cold to venture out, you can choose between a number of home exercises — including stretches, pushups, and squats, to name just a few — that require nothing more than a little space.

Can’t decide what to do? Find a workout video online and follow along!

[Related: Home Gym Equipment Guide for Baby Boomers]

Go for a Walk (Inside)

The weather might prevent you from wanting to go on a stroll through the park or your neighborhood, but you can still enjoy the benefits of walking without having to brave the cold. Shopping malls are perfect for long walks, as they tend to open earlier than the shops themselves, are heated and well-lit, and provide amenities such as bathrooms, benches, and water fountains.

Swim in an Indoor Pool

If you have access to an indoor pool, swimming can be an excellent way to stay in shape during the winter. Swimming improves heart health and increases flexibility and strength, and is especially great for those with arthritis, as water’s buoyancy makes the activity low-impact and helps to relieve joint pain.

Be sure to ask if your local pool offers any water sports or group activities, such as water yoga or water aerobics.

Take a Fitness Class

Some people prefer working out in groups, and if that’s the case, winter doesn’t have to get in your way. A wide variety of indoor fitness classes — such as water aerobics, zumba, yoga, or cycling — are available to surround you with like-minded individuals and give you that extra incentive to work out.

Many gyms offer classes, and you can also check for free options at your local community center. Some health care plans include access to the Silver Sneakers program, which provides a number of different classes to members.


Yoga classes are great for all ages and abilities, and you can usually find a yoga studio not too far away. Community centers and local gyms might also offer classes.

Yoga assists with flexibility and balance, and works to tighten your core and build lean muscles. The meditative environment of a yoga class can greatly reduce stress, and if you’re looking for something a bit more upbeat, some yoga classes even incorporate modern music and quicker transitions through poses to keep you on your toes!

Indoor Cycling

In these cold winter months, opt for a workout indoors on a stationary bicycle. If you can’t find a local spin class to participate in, you can always cycle at home or in the gym.

Riding a bike is excellent for arthritic knees since it allows full-motion movement, lubricating the joint and helping it move with ease. Cycling is also great for cardiovascular health and is relatively low-impact.

Join a Gym

If you don’t have the space or equipment at home, joining a gym is a great alternative. Most gyms offer free weights and weight machines for resistance training, as well as cardio machines such as treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and stair mills for aerobic exercise.

Your local gym will likely provide everything you could want, but you can also use the International Council on Active Aging’s facility locator to browse gyms in your area and select one that offers programs and services for your fitness level.

Sign Up for a Winter Sports League

For an indoor activity that’s social, competitive, and loads of fun, sign up for a winter sports league! Choose dodgeball, coed volleyball, basketball, or any other team sport of your choice. Your local parks and rec department will be happy to keep you moving this winter.

[Related: How to Start a Sports Team]

Bringing the Outdoors In

If you love outdoor activities but bad weather is standing in your way, indoor exercise may leave you feeling a little bit stir-crazy. Your solution: Bring the outdoors in with these creative ideas.

Climbing Gyms

These places are pretty cool and are not just for experienced rock climbers. Climbing gyms offer introductory classes for complete newbies, and provide a safe environment with a wide variety of skill levels and trained staff to teach you the ropes (pun intended!).

You will be safely harnessed and belted with top-roped climbs up to about 60 feet or so. Top rope climbs have a carabiner secured to a ceiling bolt with the rope running through it. Some gyms also have the option of bouldering, which is done closer to the ground with safety crash pads and doesn’t require harnesses or ropes.

Standard gym clothes that aren’t too loosely fitting work just fine. If you start to get into it, some good rock climbing shoes will be your first purchase.

Indoor Ski Parks

Indoor ski parks are growing throughout the U.S. and worldwide. If you love skiing but the cold weather is getting to be too much, these are for you.

Some parks have manufactured snow, and others are actually snowless! You will be surprised at how many indoor ski parks exist; and one just may be near you.

[Related: Skiing for Older Adults]

Ice Skating Rinks

Ice skating may seem pretty old-fashioned, but it’s a great workout and appeals to people of all ages. Skates are rented, so you only need to bring typical cold weather gear and perhaps a pair of knee pads. You’re sure to get in a great cardio workout!

Arboretums & Conservatories

Want to enjoy nature without the cold? Most major cities have an indoor botanical garden or conservatory, and if it isn’t too crowded, you may be able to sneak in a power walk!

Check out the top conservatories in the U.S. Your local or regional parks department may also have a list of public and private conservatories in your area.

Need more motivational tips to help you stay fit? We’ve got them!

Featured image via Pixabay

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