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5 Tips to Beat the Winter Blues and Stay Active This Season

person running in the snow
Jack Frost isn't the only one who can have fun this winter. Beat the winter blues with these tips for staying active and happy during the coldest months of the year!

by Autumn Jones

The winter cold might be bitter, but that doesn't mean you need to be! You can beat the winter blues by trading in your scarf for sneakers and staying active during the chilliest season of the year.

Although it might feel good to cozy up next to the fire for a long winter's nap, resisting the urge to hibernate can really pay off. According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, just a few minutes of exercise can help lift any spirits and within five minutes after moderate exercise, individuals receive a positive mood-enhancement effect. A study out of the University of Michigan also found that as little as 10 minutes of physical activity per week or one day of exercise per week might result in increased levels of happiness. As Time points out, "People seemed to have mental health benefits from physical activity regardless of whether they reported working out to the point of exhaustion or barely breaking a sweat."

Making movement part of your winter schedule will help you find the sweet spot of feeling good and motivated. The point is to keep your body moving and get your blood pumping. (And then enjoy that nap by the fire as a reward!) As the American Psychological Association explains, focusing on the mood boost you get from exercising can help you stay inspired to go back to the gym again and again.

Don't let Jack Frost have all the fun this winter! Here's how you can stay happy, healthy, and motivated throughout the chilly season.

1. Embrace the Weather

For starters, don't let the low temperatures keep you indoors — gear up in your warmest layers and head out for some snowy fitness fun. Take advantage of the season and let your inner child play.

Going snowshoeing, ice-skating, or hitting the slopes are all good ways to raise your heart rate while enjoying the great (frosty) outdoors. Or you could simply start a snowball fight!

2. Mix Up Your Routine

A change in season is the perfect time to mix up your workout routine. Take advantage of this shift and consider trying that circuit-training workout you've been wondering about, or make friends with a new piece of cardio equipment. Giving something new a try can be just the challenge you need to stay active and beat those winter blues.

3. Grab a Buddy

Even burpees are more fun with a friend! Find a workout buddy who wants to stay accountable this winter and set up a regular schedule for meeting at the gym. Knowing that a familiar face will be waiting for you by the treadmill makes it a lot easier to pull yourself out from under the fuzzy blanket and continue working on your fitness journey.

4. Set a New Goal

You can also use the transition in seasons to revisit your fitness goals and set a new one to accomplish this winter. Even if your goal is just to make it to the gym throughout the cold months, you'll have something to work toward! Tracking your progress week after week can help you stay excited about your goal and boost your drive to accomplish it.

5. Try a New Time

Why not switch up the time of day you exercise and see how it affects your mood and motivation? According to Business Insider, your personal biological clock can affect your physical performance. This means early birds hit their peak around midday, while night owls hit their stride later in the evening. The key to beating the winter blues might be in what time you're at the gym! Experiment a bit to find what works best for you.

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.