How to Get Motivated for a Workout When You Just Want to Chill

Ready to Run EVEN Hotels
Exercise even when the mood doesn't strike.: Photo credit: Halfpoint/iStock/Getty Images Plus collection/Getty Images

Between the post-holiday slump and plunging temperatures outside, snuggling under a blanket with a cup of tea might sound better than working out. But there are plenty of interesting ways to vary your routines so the cool temps don’t dampen your commitment to fitness. Here are eight strategies to try when the couch is calling your name:

Set a Time Limit and Go Beyond It
Tell yourself you’ll just do a 10- to 15-minute workout. Everyone can muster that amount of time in their day. When you hit the 15-minute mark, you can give yourself permission to quit, but most likely you’ll be in the zone and want to keep going.

Give Yourself a Reward
Figure out what will motivate you to work out. Perhaps it’s restricting your best playlist to workouts only — that way you have to earn it to listen to your favorite music.

Or you can try to make a trip to the gym special. Savor some “me time” in the sauna or grab a delicious smoothie after your run.

Follow the Light
Winter months mean shorter days, leading many people to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, a depression-like funk from lack of sunlight. So try to get outdoors, soak up some light and enjoy the crisp temperatures — and the motivation will follow. If it’s a rainy or cloudy day, try a sun lamp.

“If you are happier, you are more likely to do the things that bring you joy, such as working out,” says Cristina Osorio, a TruFusion instructor.

Work Out in the Morning
Schedule your workout first thing in the morning so you don’t get trapped in the house.

“Working out before breakfast, especially cardio, also does wonders to speed up your metabolism and help you burn more calories throughout the day,” says Reggie Chambers, a training and fitness specialist in New York City.

Sign Up for a 30-Day Challenge
Heading into the new year, many facilities offer a 30-day challenge to stay fit. “A challenge keeps you motivated every single day, and with so many to choose from, you can pick the one that’s best for you, whether you love running, want to get better at push-ups or need to focus on finding your Zen,” says Jessica Thiefels, ACE certified personal trainer and owner of Honest Body Fitness.

Buy New Workout Clothes
Start from the outside in — new workout clothes can increase the motivation to work up a proper sweat.

“When we look good, we feel good,” says Menachem Brodie, former University of Pittsburgh cycling club team coach and the Fitness AI (artificial intelligence) expert for LifeBeam. “Use this fairly simple trick to get you heading out the door when the weather turns cool, and set your goals to look even better in your new workout gear four to six weeks from now.”

Turn Up the (Body) Heat
Before you head to the gym or a fitness class, have a cup of hot coffee or tea. “Caffeine is known to directly improve workouts and the warmth of the beverage will heat you from the inside,” says Sarah Ann Kelly, a pregnancy fitness professional at MomTrainer.

Likewise, try a class or activity that will really warm up your joints and muscles, which tend to stiffen up when the temperature drops. “Give your body some love with a hot yoga or spinning class. The heat from sweating will feel wonderful,” Kelly says.

Join a Seasonal Sports League
Most cities offer adult sports leagues year-round. “These leagues allow for friends and strangers to come together to play your favorite fall sport from kickball and volleyball, to basketball and soccer,” Brodie says. Weekly practices and games will keep working out on your calendar and keep you accountable to your health.

About the Author

Jennifer NelsonJennifer Nelson is a Florida-based writer who writes about travel, lifestyle and health for a variety of publications including AARP, Forbes and Today.com.