5 tips for working out in cold weather

Hello from freezing New York City.

When it gets cold my whole life approach is threatened. My posture gets worse as I shrink into myself to huddle for warmth. I am the frozen hunchback of the Upper West Side. (I photoshopped an example but it’s too aesthetically displeasing to share.)

That’s not a reason to give up. Don’t turn your apartment into a hermitage of slack. Get out there. While everyone else is hibernating and putting on their winter weight, get awesome triceps. (Fact: Triceps are the muscle that make you think: “OW OW” when you look at an arm.)

Here are some ideas on how to make the cold weather work for your workout: 

1. Plan in advance. Through spring and summer,  its easy to find time for a walk or a swim. It’s natural to live a more active lifestyle in the reasonable-person temperatures. In the winter you need to make a date with your workout. Make an appointment and schedule it in. Be specific. Sign up for a class. Don’t negotiate with that time.

2. Build it into your schedule. Tack a workout to something you’re already doing and you’re less likely to blow it off. Twice a week directly after work I go to my favorite class at Physique57. I pack workout clothes in the morning and when the time comes to leave work, I go without  a second guess. It’s a major bonus for me that I don’t have to go out into the cold twice. (And it’s sort of on my way home.)

the author sampling some running headgear and gloves
the author sampling some running headgear and gloves

3. Buy awesome winter gear. If you can, shop for cold-weather running gear. I love my Lululemon Toasty Tech pants and tops (they aren’t available yet or I’d link to them). I also just bought winter leggings by North Face. I’ll let you know once I give them a try. In addition to actually making your run easier and warmer, the added “I have a new thing” excitement should get you out of the door. Athleta and other brands have their own lines of winter weight running clothes, too.

4. Warm up inside. Warming up increases your body temperature and increases your blood flow. This means you’re body won’t be in shock mode when you hit the cold pavement. Runner’s World has some suggested indoor warm ups for this exact purpose.

5. Check the weekly weather report. Running in 36F is not the same as running in 11F.  Look at the weeklong forecast and on the warmer winter days go for a run. Figure out what your threshold is and schedule your outdoor workouts around it.

Any other advice for working out in the winter? If you’re trying to work out in the morning too, try these tips!



  1. Camill
    November 20, 2014 / 12:32 pm

    Sierra trading post is an amazing resource for cheap warm running clothes. I got my fleece lined leggings for $20!

    • Nicole
      November 20, 2014 / 12:38 pm

      Oooo good tip!! Do they stay up? My nike ones slip

  2. jogo
    November 20, 2014 / 3:52 pm

    can i borrow some warm clothings? im supposed to run with your roommate this afternoon! brrr

    • Nicole
      November 20, 2014 / 3:53 pm

      You definitely can. everything I am wearing in the photo belongs to Matt. He is a good sharer. Or I can equip you in the warmest of neon running gear from my own collection.

  3. Kyla
    December 1, 2014 / 3:24 pm

    Hi, longtime reader, first time commenter. What if I live in Canada where it is even colder still? What can I do to get motivated to work out during the week?

    • Nicole
      October 21, 2015 / 1:49 pm

      you can bundle up Shifra and hit the road w/ some motivational warm tunes, im thinking the beach boys and jimmy buffet.

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