10 Dead-of-Winter Fitness Motivators

When the temperature drops and the snow begins to fall outside, it's hard to justify a good reason for getting off the couch. But even though lounging in front of the television feels a lot more tempting than taking a jog or even driving to the gym, there's no reason you have to completely surrender your fitness goals until spring. These ten simple strategies will motivate you to keep moving all season long. 

1. Have fun. Let's face it—an hour on the elliptical trainer at the gym can get quite boring, especially if you forgot your iPod or the guy next to you insists on watching boring reruns. Try tapping into your inner child instead. Did you love sledding as a kid? Could you always be found as the ice skating rink? Many of the same activities that gave you pleasure as a kid can be just as fun now. Yes, you may need new equipment; yes, you may need a refresher course; and yes, chances are your muscles will be sore afterwards—especially if you haven't been this active for awhile. But as long as you're having fun, you're far more likely to forget that you're getting a good cardiovascular workout.

2. Try something new. Here's another idea that will reawaken your inner child—name the activity that you always wanted to try as a kid, but weren't able to. Then explore that option as an adult. Better yet, try something completely outside your own personal activity safety zone-such as cardio salsa dancing, snowshoeing, or Tai Chi. You may awaken an old passion or even create an entirely new one.

3. Get outdoors. Fresh air provides a burst of fresh oxygen to your system—an instant energy booster. What's more, there's nothing like the sound of a bird singing, a squirrel chattering, or the icicles dripping to remind you that you're a small piece of something much larger—and that can give you a fresh take on living.

4. Clean your house. If you can't get outdoors to exercise, think about burning some calories while indoors. Giving your home a thorough cleaning will only help you feel better, but it will provide some great health benefits as well. Vacuuming, dusting, and scrubbing, for example, works your muscles and burns calories. Plus, the removal of dust and allergens from your home will help you feel better overall.

5. Buy new gear. There's nothing like some new clothes to give you a boost of confidence. You can use this saying to your advantage when it comes to fitness, too. Use your new outfit to show off your weight loss results, feel more comfortable at the gym, or just dust off your slightly outdated fitness image.

6. Go shopping. Try shocking your system by trying on bathing suits in the dead of winter. Keep in mind that dressing room lighting can be less than flattering—but sometimes jumping into the deep end is just the motivation you need to get moving!

7. Consult an expert. There's nothing like a fresh perspective to get you in the mood to achieve. If you're struggling with emotional food issues, for example, consult a therapist, or find a support group with people who understand your needs. If you're tired of the same old exercise routine, consider meeting with a personal trainer to get some fresh ideas. And if your cooking or eating habits have gone stale, a visit or two with a registered dietician can bring to life a whole range of flavors and possibilities.

8. Set a goal. The summer probably seems far away but actually, it's just about the right amount of time needed to train for a fitness event or race. The key is to find a group will that can support you and/or hold you accountable while you train. There's nothing like knowing that you're going to have to wear running shorts, meet a fundraising goal, or hold up your end of the team to serve as an effective motivator.

9. Enlist a friend. Join forces with your partner, spouse, son, daughter, uncle, mom, sister, neighbor, or dog. Studies show that people who set goals or make appointments with friends to exercise are more likely to go through with it. And the reason is simple: you're accountable to someone else, which often means more to us than being accountable to ourselves.

10. Invest in yourself. Many people spend a lot of time doing things for other people-their kids, their partner, their aging parents. But don't forget this fact: at the end of the day, you are the best caretaker for yourself. Consider getting healthy an investment in yourself. The paybacks include increased energy, better health, and a more positive outlook on life.