Winter exercise - staying dedicated in the cold

One thing that I’ve learnt over the years about trying to stay consistent with moving your body, is that motivation can be fleeting. Maintaining focus long-term comes down to dedication. I found motivation was often fuelled by superficial things, like an upcoming event or the pressure of summer looming, whereas being dedicated to giving my body and mind the positive effects of exercise was much easier to sustain. During winter I find it the most difficult to stay on track, but I’ve found a few ways to combat the desire to stay in my pyjamas in front of the heat pump.

There’s nothing worse than standing at the end of your driveway, in the pouring rain, trying to sync your watch or navigate your playlist with wet hands. I don’t mind if it starts raining while I’m out, so if the schedule allows, I plan accordingly. If I know it may rain heavily, I always wear a cap or visor, which keeps the rain from going directly in your eyes. I have a running jacket which is enough to keep me warm if it’s particularly cold, but light enough to tie around my waist with no distractions.

In Auckland the weather is mild. I salute everyone who braves the snow, wind and icy footpaths further South. The most important thing, wherever you are in the country, is making sure you’re safe. With fewer daylight hours, you need to be sure that you can be seen by other road users. Some running brands include reflective elements in their clothing and shoes, but it’s rarely enough. You can pick yourself up headlamps and reflective gear that’s specifically designed for running, online or at your local sporting store.

If I don’t feel like heading out at all, there’s a few tactics I use to trick myself into getting out the door. The first is to give the run a purpose, if there’s an errand I need to run, then I’ll literally run it. If it’s close, I may run both ways, otherwise I’ll run along a route where I can easily catch public transport home. Focusing on what you need to pick up can make the distance pass much faster. Another motivator is to reserve a podcast just for running – it gives you something to look forward to. As I trained through the winter months for the Auckland Half Marathon, I listened to episodes of the true crime podcast Serial and This American Life.

If running isn’t your thing, then the next few options may be for you. I first tried the Nike Training Club app back in 2014, when my local gym closed for a long weekend. I couldn’t imagine a weekend without a workout (and this was before I found my tolerance for running). I selected some sort of ab workout and got started. I couldn’t cough or laugh for days without pain but I felt like I was well on my way to my six-pack. Since then, the app has continued to develop into what it is today, an interactive app that can stand alone as your primary workout buddy or as a supplement to your current training plan. There are more than 180 workouts to choose from, ranging from high intensity to mobility, and you can filter them based on ability, duration and the equipment you have available. It’s intuitive to use, there are instructional videos, and the best part is that it’s completely free.

After flunking out of jazz ballet in primary school and later discovering my stage fright before an intermediate school hip hop dance recital, I was adamant I would never again attend a dance class – until I heard about OK Now Ladies. I tried to ignore all the amazing videos some of my friends were posting, convincing myself that I was shy, so I wouldn’t have any fun. It’s a mix of dance and fitness, usually including an ab track alongside working through short combinations, promising a fun and relaxed environment. Once @oknowladies_ posted they were going to dedicate a whole class to Beyoncé’s Homecoming performance I knew it was my time to take the plunge. Believe it or not, I had a blast. It was one of the first group classes that I’ve been to that truly lived up to their claims of inclusivity, I never once felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there.

Whichever way you choose to keep moving this winter, get your friend’s and family’s support – or even more exciting, go out and create some new friends to keep you on track. Find yourself an accountability buddy (also known as the tongue-twister ‘accountabilibuddy’), someone who can give you kind – or harsh – words, exactly when you need them. This person doesn’t have to be on the same journey as you, but it helps if there’s some reciprocity – maybe they have another goal they need a bit of help to achieve. Whatever you do, my final piece of advice is to not pile on the guilt if once in a while you choose a hot bath at home over hot yoga. Sometimes that’s exactly what you need.


Chanelle is a vegan, amateur athlete, social advocate, environmental enthusiast and blogger at