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Struggling to maintain the exercise routine you managed to perfect in the summer months? You’re not alone. Getting yourself into the gym or heading out for a run on cold dark mornings and evenings takes a lot more motivation than it might do in July.

Buddy up

Just as with joining a club, agreeing to exercise with a friend gives you an incentive (other than exercise) to do something active. Motivating yourself through these dark months can be tough, so think about buddying up with a friend. It will help change your perspective of working out to something a little more enjoyable and sociable. It’s also much more difficult to cancel on a friend than to just decide not to go yourself.

Update your workout playlist

Numerous studies have found that working out to music improves your performance – be it your favourite song giving you energy, listening to a steady beat and working in time to it, or being so distracted by imagining yourself in a recreation of the music video that you barely realise you’re even exercising… To prevent any boredom setting in, make sure you update your playlist so there are always songs that’ll make you excited to get out of the door – whatever the weather.

Prep like a boss

You’ve been there before: You forgot to pack your gym pants, you worked late and missed your yoga class, your meeting ran over so you ate a takeaway lunch al-desko. Instead, consider implementing a few simple organizational tricks to make maintaining your plan much easier. Set aside time every Sunday to sit down and schedule your workouts for the week ahead. Treat these as the most important appointments in your calendar so you won’t skip them. Meals prepped in advance can save you from splurging on Big Macs and microwave meals, and laying your kit out the evening before a class can prevent any last minute panics.

Remind yourself why it’s important

In those moments when you have to climb out of a warm, cosy bed and head into the cold, it can be difficult to remember how great you will feel afterwards. Exercising on those dark cold days will actually help boost your body’s ‘feel good’ endorphins to help blast away those winter blues. Exercising has been found to boost your body’s serotonin, norepinephrine and stress response to help induce a natural state of calm leading into the hectic festive period. That’s motivation enough.

Have an indoor plan B

If there’s hail, snow, ice-lined paths or a storm? Yep, OK fine, don’t do it. If you can’t get out, there are plenty of bodyweight exercises you can do at home instead – be it lunges, push-ups or burpees. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with grabbing a couple of tins of baked beans and using them as makeshift weights.

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