Hibernation: Why You Can’t Stop Exercising in the Winter


Cooler weather is here and soon we will all be prone to hibernation. Our current culture loves the trend of “sweater weather”, flannel shirts, bonfires, and sipping a warm drink by the fire. So you might think the term hibernation is a cute way of referencing these trendy cozy moments, but make no mistake that embracing hibernation too fully can do significant damage to your fitness goals and overall health.

The definition of hibernation is “spending the winter in a dormant state.” Or “an extended period of remaining inactive or indoors.” A dormant state? Extended period of being inactive? You’ve worked hard all spring and summer for your fitness gains. Don’t throw it all away just because it gets a little cold out.

It’s also important to think of how the long months and short days of the winter can affect us all mentally.

Less sunshine and social interaction + a lack of physical activity = no Bueno.

Think of exercise as a prescription to help you maintain your mental health. Every time you exercise you are boosting your endorphins and serotonin levels and preventing the symptoms of depression and seasonal affective disorder.

Let’s take a look at three of the main ways you can make sure you don’t come out of hibernation feeling sluggish and bloated.

1. Keeping Moving All Winter

With a little preparation and caution, you can easily continue to work out outdoors during the winter. This is truth. If you catch a day in the middle of winter with the sun shining and no recent precipitation that could cause slicks streets, you really can still run outside. There aren’t any rules against doing so. And honestly, even if the sun isn’t shining, you can still go outside in the winter and exercise. Get yourself some designated winter exercise gear and get going! Your mental health will appreciate the fresh air and sunshine when available.

If working out outdoors just isn’t for you, it’s ok. We don’t judge. But there are mounds of opportunities to stay fit indoors with or without a gym membership. Regardless of where you move, it’s just important that you keep moving. This might mean taking on a whole new routine during the winter months and that’s ok. You can do it. Plan out a new schedule. Maybe it’s too dark after dinner for your late night jog now and so you need to get up earlier to hit the gym before work… great!

2. Say “No” to S’more S’mores & Other Holiday Treats

Be conscious of all the occasions that bring lots of yummy treats along during the cooler months. We are not here to tell you that you can never indulge or occasionally raid your kid’s Halloween stash. But we are here to tell you that every little extra treat adds up. If it’s a little Halloween candy here and then a s’more there and maybe your favorite Octoberfest beer there, then: BAM! You’re ready for hibernation.

Let’s get real. We’ve got Halloween (candy) then Thanksgiving (pies, turkey, gravy etc.) then Christmas (#ALLTHECOOKIES) then New Year’s (Surf and Turf) and then that middle-of-winter time when people are so deep into their hibernation that they just give up and give in. If you don’t want to come out of hibernation on the other side of your fitness and health goals, then you really need to be mindful of all the occasions that might bring about excess eating. Focus on your favorite dishes and enjoy those, rather than feeling like you have to eat a little of everything.

3. Focus on the Goal of Health

We believe in setting goals for pretty much every aspect of life. Goals should always be realistic and clearly defined. So what is your goal for your overall wellness this winter? Do you want to continue gaining muscle? Ensure you don’t lose the endurance you’ve built running this summer? Or maybe you know you are prone to feelings of depression during the long winter months and your focus is to stay mentally healthy. Whatever your goal, define it and work it.

Failure to plan is planning to fail. Don’t let the nostalgia of cold nights by the fire tempt you into a state of hibernation. Create your action plan to keep moving, Say no to S’more S’mores and focus on the goal.