Winter blahs? 4 pro tips to get you off the couch.

Struggling to stay active in winter? We've got you covered with some inside tips and strategies that'll help you keep moving.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Even the most dedicated fitness buff struggles to stay active when temperatures plunge. But there's no such thing as an off-season for exercise: Recent guidelines call for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week — even in darkest winter. So what's the secret for staying motivated when you'd rather be curled up by the fire?

Exercise pros can help. This fitness primer from the health and wellness experts at Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program offers some fresh ideas to keep you moving during the winter months.

  1. Sign up for indoor classes and teams

    Ever had a yen to try salsa dancing? Play racquetball? Join a bowling team? Now's the time. Winter classes and groups not only help keep you active when it's too cold outside, they can also shake up a stale aerobic routine. Joining with a friend or partner keeps you accountable and amps up the fun.

    Need an even bigger nudge? Studies have shown that people who engage in more-social sports activities — versus solitary activities like swimming and jogging — may live longer. Tennis, badminton and soccer players had the most improved lifespans.

  2. Break out the cold-weather gear

    For anyone who loves the bite of crisp air and the comfort of a warm sweater, this one's a no-brainer: Have fun with all the equipment and activities you can't enjoy any other time of year. We're talking skating, skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowshoeing and winter hikes.

    Bonus: Studies have shown that people who exercise outside, versus indoors, may experience greater feelings of revitalization as well as mood benefits, including decreased anger, tension and depression.

  3. Create your own mini home gym

    When you really don't want to head out into the cold, get a fun workout in at home. These affordable pieces of fitness equipment can help you turn any corner into a home gym.

    • Yoga mat. Rolled up and stashed in your workout area, a yoga mat takes up little space, but offers a soft surface for your routine.
    • Resistance bands. Light, portable and available in a range of lengths and strengths, these flexible elastic bands can help you maintain an effective resistance training program without big weight machines or cumbersome dumbbells.
    • Foam rollers. These self-massagers come in a variety of lengths and densities; beginners can start with medium density. Using the rollers can help you increase flexibility and improve mobility, and help speed muscle recovery after an intense workout.
    • Bike trainer/roller. New bike trainers and rollers, which allow you to ride your bike inside instead of out in the snow, span a wide range of affordability and portability options. Both have been shown to help with cycling training.

Remember: Every minute of activity counts, whether inside or out. Sometimes, "close enough" can be OK. Too cold for your 30-minute walk outside? Try squeezing out 20. No way are you headed outside into a blizzard for your 45-minute run? Head to the stairwell instead and run up and down steps for just 5 to 10 minutes.

Recent studies have shown that even 1- to 2-minute bouts of intense interval training, like cycle sprints, practiced 3 times per week can improve cardiac and metabolic health just as much as more-moderate, 50-minute-long cycling sessions.

We all need to keep moving for improved health, no matter how cold and dark it is outside. But how you choose to spend that time is all up to you. Bollywood dance class, anyone?

Jan. 15, 2019 See more In-depth

See also

  1. Slide show: 5 smart exercise choices for psoriatic arthritis
  2. 6 tips for an active getaway you'll remember
  3. Accentuate the positive to make lasting health changes
  4. An appointment to exercise? You bet!
  5. Are you ready for a workout?
  6. Balance training: Boost your long-term health with these exercises
  7. Barriers to fitness
  8. Blood Doping
  9. BMI calculator
  10. Body fat analyzers
  11. Boot camp workout
  12. The role of diet and exercise in preventing Alzheimer's disease
  13. Core exercises
  14. Create a home gym without breaking the bank
  15. Did you exercise today? Reward yourself!
  16. Toning shoes
  17. Does fitness trump thinness?
  18. Don't have an exercise budget? Go cheap!
  19. Dress smart for winter workouts
  20. Early bird or night owl? Plan exercise accordingly
  21. Exercise benefits
  22. Exercise and chronic disease
  23. Exercise and illness
  24. Stress relief
  25. Exercise: Every minute counts!
  26. Exercising with arthritis
  27. Exercise smarter, not longer
  28. Exercise: Check with your doctor
  29. Exercising regularly? Track your progress!
  30. Fitness program
  31. Fitness: Take it 1 step at a time
  32. Fitness motivation
  33. Fitness ball exercises videos
  34. Fitness barriers: Bust 'em
  35. Fitness for less
  36. Fitness ideas for the entire family
  37. Fitness program
  38. Fitness takes more than huffing and puffing
  39. Fitness tip: Get physical at home
  40. Fitness tip: Get physical at work
  41. Fitness tip: Include your friends
  42. Fitness training routine
  43. Fitting in fitness
  44. Going up? Take the stairs
  45. Golf injuries
  46. Golfers: Know when to call it quits
  47. Golfers: Tee up common sense
  48. Hanging out with friends? Activity counts!
  49. Hate to exercise? Try these tips
  50. Heart rate
  51. Heat and exercise
  52. Hockey Flywheel
  53. How fit are you?
  54. How much exercise do you really need?
  55. 3 easy ways to get started with yoga
  56. Is exercise a chore? No more!
  57. Keep your workout fun
  58. Know when to move your winter workout indoors
  59. Late-day exercise
  60. Marathon and the Heat
  61. Mayo Clinic Minute: How to hit your target heart rate
  62. Miss a workout? Don't give up!
  63. Natural movement: Going back to basics
  64. Need a gym to get fit?
  65. Need exercise motivation? Put it on paper
  66. Need motivation to exercise? Try a diary
  67. No pain, no gain? No way!
  68. No time for exercise? No way!
  69. Office exercise
  70. Overuse injury prevention
  71. Pregnancy and exercise
  72. Ready to get in on the aquatic fitness movement?
  73. Simple tips for staying active and mobile with osteoarthritis
  74. Core-strength exercises
  75. Guide to stretches
  76. Balance exercises
  77. Fitness ball
  78. Starting a fitness program? Take it slow
  79. Starting an exercise program: Take time to rest
  80. Stay fit and healthy — without breaking a sweat
  81. Stay fit at any age
  82. Travel and work
  83. Strength training: How-to video collection
  84. The best ways to bounce back after a tough workout
  85. 5 common sports injuries in young female athletes
  86. To stay fit, embrace the power of play
  87. Too busy to exercise? Get up earlier
  88. Too sick to exercise?
  89. Fitness tips for business travelers
  90. Walking for fitness: Getting started
  91. Want to get fit? Try backyard aerobics!
  92. What it takes to be agile at any age
  93. Cold-weather exercise
  94. Winter weather tip: Watch for signs of frostbite
  95. Working out? Remember to drink up
  96. Workout blahs? Don't go it alone!