Health Advocate Blog

Ask a Health Advocate: As the weather gets colder, how should I adjust my workout routine?

The change in seasons brings more than just changes in what you wear. You should also adjust your exercise routine, especially if you live in a region where weather changes are big. Plan now for what you will do differently to avoid a disruption in your exercise routine, which can help you stay motivated through the fall and winter months. Here are some ways you can adjust your routine.

Find an indoor alternative for outdoor activities

Bring activities like walking, running, biking and swimming indoors. Look for indoor treadmill workouts to continue your walking or running routine. For biking, you can opt to use a stationary cycle or use a bike trainer. A bike trainer is a specialized device that lets you turn your regular bike into a stationary cycle; you can purchase them online or in sporting goods stores. And if you live or work near an indoor pool, you can move your summer swimming routine indoors.

Try a new activity

It is always a great idea to add variety to your routine so that you can progress your workouts and continue to see fitness improvements. The change in weather can inspire you to do something new! This may be a good time to start a strength training routine if you haven’t done so before. There are a variety of classes from dance aerobics, mind/body (yoga, Pilates), to traditional aerobics. Think outside the box, too. You may find an indoor track for track workouts, or try indoor rock climbing. You may use your new activity just to get you through until spring, or it could become a part of your regular routine.

Cross train

Cross training is important for building overall fitness and injury prevention, especially if you are used to doing one specific exercise activity. If you focus primarily on walking or running, switch to cycling or strength training. Winter sports can also be a weather-appropriate way to cross train, so consider skiing or snowshoeing too.

Find a year-round space to exercise

If you already use an indoor exercise facility, it can eliminate the need to change your routine due to weather, allowing you to maintain your routine year-round if you’d like. Take a look at local health clubs near your home or work, and consider signing up for a membership. You may also choose to join a specialty studio focusing on specific classes like yoga or spinning, try out an indoor track facility, or join an indoor swimming facility.

Get cold-weather gear for outdoor exercise

Don’t mind the cold? Make sure you bundle up before your workout. Dress in layers so you can adjust what you’re wearing in case you get too hot or too cold. Start with a breathable light layer that wicks sweat away from the body. Top that with a fleece or wool layer for warmth, and finish with a waterproof outer layer. Wear a warm hat, as heat dissipates from your head. Ear protection and gloves can be helpful to keep your extremities warm. Hydration is still important for exercise, so bring along a water bottle too.

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the Wellness Coaching program, reach out to your Wellness Coach for more tips on adjusting your fitness plan and sticking with it during the colder months.

Have a question for a Health Advocate? Email, and your question may be the topic of an upcoming “Ask a Health Advocate” column!