Winters can be the toughest time for workouts—the first step out of bed seems the hardest. But do you really want to skip exercise altogether? Here are a few reasons why you should not let the weather play havoc with your workout schedule.

The sun is your friend

Outdoor workouts and runs are much better in winters because the sun is not as harsh. In summers, with temperatures upwards of 40 degrees Celsius, your body can overheat. “In colder climate, your body takes longer to touch 40 degrees and you can get around 25-30% more mileage," says Shayamal Vallabhjee, sports scientist and founder of the Mumbai-based sports medicine clinic Heal Institute. This means you can run harder and longer without getting as exhausted or heating up internally.

Don’t pile up the kilos

Warm desserts, parathas, roasted chicken glazed with honey—let’s face it, winter food can be really hard to resist. While the fat these foods contain helps keep the body warm, uncontrolled consumption can lead to easy weight gain.

“The basal metabolic rate (the calories you burn in a day, without any activity) comes down in winters. Which means your body burns less calories in the cold, and therefore you feel more lethargic. If you continue consuming the same amount of calories as before, but do not ramp up your workouts, it can lead to weight gain," says Dharam P. Pandey, director and head of department, physiotherapy and rehabilitation, at the BLK Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi.

Cold weather also demands a different diet. “During winters, we need to have foods that warm us and help build immunity to fight the common cold, cough and flu. Make hearty winter greens like palak (spinach), methi (fenugeek), sarson saag (mustard leaves), muli (radish) and grains like bajra (pearl millet) and makki (maize) part of your diet," says Ankita Gupta, dietitian and founder of Nutrition Matters, a weight and diet management consultancy, Delhi.

Stay motivated

Fog and decreased sunlight can have an adverse effect on your mood. When you exercise, the body produces endorphins, leading to feelings of euphoria and general well-being. Fitness enthusiasts and experts around the country swear by these simple tricks to keep themselves motivated.

Make plans with a friend or join a group

When you don’t want to exercise by yourself, you can always find company to keep you motivated. Chances are that when you tell another person you will meet him/her for a run or workout, you will end up going for it. “Finding a buddy is a good idea to go outdoors early in the morning, run and do your regular chit chat and finish it with a hot cuppa if time permits," says Gurugram-based running coach Ravinder Singh.

Keep changing workouts

If one workout gets boring, find different classes to try out. Many of the gyms and fitness studios now offer a package of different workouts—from zumba, CrossFit, mixed martial arts to yoga, spinning and kick-boxing. Select a few and keep playing with the combination. “Do more cardio if weights get boring and do some outdoor workouts to get some sunshine," says Huzefa Talib, co-founder of The OutFit, a functional fitness gym in Bengaluru. If you have the luxury of time, change your workout hours.

Keep it new

Put new music on your iPod and buy some special workout gear. Most apps now have a specially created list of workout songs, so choose one which suits the tempo of your workout and get moving. Check out apps like Nike Training Club, Aaptiv, Yogapedia, 7 Minute Workout, and more.

The Adidas Climaheat Sweatshirt.
The Adidas Climaheat Sweatshirt.

Almost all sporting and athletic wear brands launch winter special lines. Puma’s Vent Thermo-R Runner Jacket (Rs7,999) is windproof, and the softshell material protects you from wind chill during and after your run. The Reebok OSR Wool Mix top (Rs3,299) uses polyester wool fabric to keep you warm during outdoor runs. The Adidas Cllimaheat Primeknit sweatshirts (Rs8,999-9,999) have Climaheat insulation and PrimaLoft yarn to trap heat close to the body and provide moisture management.

So, winter workouts could just become better than summer gym-time. And if nothing else, you will be able to enjoy those festive treats once you have burnt off some calories.