Mustering up the courage to workout in the winter months can be a real challenge. Cold weather and dark days make winter arguably the most difficult time of year for most of us to maintain our exercise regimes.

But if we can find the motivation to keep going, even when the weather turns on us, then we can really stand to benefit from it.

So to help spur you on throughout Christmas and beyond, here are 4 benefits of exercising in winter.

Burns excess calories

Let’s not lie to ourselves, winter’s never the easiest time to watch what we eat. It’s the season of comfort food, after all. Throw Christmas and New Year’s into the mix and all of a sudden we’re dealing with hibernation-levels of snack food and takeaway consumption.

But keeping a solid exercise routine throughout the colder months can help to burn off any excess calories we might be accumulating. Plus it helps us feel less guilty on those days when we might overindulge just a little…

Encourages creativity

When exercising during winter, safety is extra important. Going out in the dark, or on snowy days, can pose greater risks of injury. So in order to keep ourselves safe and happy, sometimes the only way forward is to get a little creative and do something slightly different.

If running’s your thing, for example, but you can’t get out due to icy roads, then maybe you’ll have to turn to an online yoga class or HIIT session instead.

Even snowy days can’t stop us. Building a snowman in the garden, having a snowball fight, pulling a sled, all these activities will get the body moving in a dynamic way and provide a gentle (or not so gentle, in some cases) workout!

Helps to build willpower

We can all struggle under the relentless power of excuses, especially during winter. They’re easy to make, after all, and don’t require much justification. Maybe it’s a bit cold outside, or too dark, or maybe it’s just that bit harder to pull ourselves out of bed on an icy morning.

Whatever the reason, excuses can play a huge role in dismantling our winter workout routines. But by overcoming them, and finding the will to exercise on even the dreariest of January mornings, we can seriously strengthen our willpower in long term.

Don’t forget, choosing exercise over a warm blanket and a film is not any easy choice to make, or follow through with. But it can really help to reinforce positive habits that will stick with us for the rest of the year (and, who knows, maybe even the rest of our lives).

Keeps you happy

According to research, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern, and is usually most severe in winter – affects 1 in 3 adults in the UK.

According to the NHS, SAD can be treated in part by regular exercise. So keeping active throughout winter is an excellent way to help treat and prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder.

But even for those who aren’t at risk from this particular disorder, regular exercise can still help to keep you happy and emotionally balanced. 

Motivation is the key

As with many things fitness-related, motivation is one of the keys to long-term success. But if you ever struggle with getting yourself going, why not take a look at our post on how to motivate yourself to workout from home.