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How do you to stay motivated to exercise in the dark and cold?
November 10, 2017

Although early fall was unusually warm in Eastern Pennsylvania, it will get cold. And days are getting shorter.

If you like to exercise outdoors, the cold and dark can make it difficult.  How do you stay motivated and stick to your exercise regimen when it’s winter?

Gregory Massie, PT, DPT, OCS, board certified orthopedic specialist and facility director of Physical Therapy at St. Luke’s in Stroudsburg, offers these ideas:

Find new ways of exercising indoors. If you don’t like to go for a run in the cold and dark, it’s a great chance to explore new exercise options, Massie says. “I know a lot of fitness centers have classes,” he says. Starting a fitness program under the supervision of a medical professional is always an option as well, he says.  

Also, make room in a bedroom or basement for a home gym. You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment, Massie says. You can do squats and stretches utilizing your own body weight for an effective work out.  A multitude of resources are available online and with fitness professionals to help get you started on a workout program, he says.

You can turn a lot of bikes into a stationary bike with a stand or a trainer to complete exercise in the comfort of your own home.

Besides, Massie says, mixing up your workouts is beneficial and helps you continue to make gains. “The more variability you throw into your workouts, the more your body has to adapt and make the positive changes you seek,” he says.

Find a workout partner. Having someone to exercise with is a great motivator, Massie says. Meeting a friend at the gym makes you accountable. Also, if you go outside with someone and talk while you exercise, it can take your mind off an exercise that you may not enjoy and the cold. Gym buddies also tend to push each other to do more.

Dress appropriately. Make sure you have a dry pair of socks, he says. Dress in layers. Layers allow you to be warm at the start of your run. As you warm up, you can easily shed them, Massie says.

  • Wear a hat and gloves to keep your head and hands warm, he says.
  • Winter could be a good time to treat yourself to new workout gear. You’ll want to make use of your investment.
  • You can buy exercise clothing that is made of fabrics that wick sweat away. This helps in the winter as well as the summer, Massie says.
  • If you go out in the dark, be sure to wear reflectors so you can be seen, he adds.  

Exercise caution. If the roads are slippery or icy, find an alternative exercise, Massie says. “It’s not worth going ahead and injuring yourself. If you slip on the ice or twist your ankle on wet surfaces, it can set you back a couple of weeks.”

Pay attention to the weather forecast, Massie says. “There’s always another day.” If a storm is in the forecast, you can make that day your rest day or move your workout indoors, he says. It’s important to give your body time to rest, so it can recover.  If you do sustain an injury while exercising, you can see a physical therapist for 30 days without a doctor’s prescription through direct access to get you back to exercising quicker, he notes.

Originally published in the Pocono Record

Media Contact:

Sam Kennedy, Corporate Communications Director, 484-526-4134, samuel.kennedy@sluhn.org

About St. Luke’s

Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network providing services at seven hospitals and more than 270 outpatient sites in the greater Lehigh Valley. The network’s service area includes 10 counties: Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Schuylkill, Bucks, Montgomery, Berks and Monroe counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey.  In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the region’s first and only regional medical school campus. Dedicated to advancing health education, St. Luke’s operates the nation’s oldest School of Nursing and 23 graduate medical educational programs and is considered a major teaching hospital – the only one in its region. Repeatedly, including 2017, St. Luke’s earned Truven’s 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital and 50 Top Cardiovascular Program designations, in addition to other honors for clinical excellence. St. Luke’s is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of St. Luke’s information technology applications such as electronic medical records, telehealth, online scheduling and pricing information. St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers.