These 6 tips will help you defeat the darkness of winter and get into your workout

Advice from a personal trainer on how to stay motivated when the days are short.

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When winter comes and the time changes, the early sunsets can mean that your motivation to head to the gym may start setting earlier, too. It would be great if we could maintain a state of constant motivation, but the truth is that can be challenging to stay focused on your health and fitness goals when your energy levels have fallen to the floor.

You’re not alone. Many people struggle to adapt to the time change. In fact, it's built into our biology. When the seasons change, so do our circadian rhythms. And that seasonal circadian shift affects not just when we sleep, but also when we have energy. In other words, staying healthy in winter may mean that you have to adjust your fitness habits.

Knowing this, I’ve put together a list of my top si tips on staying motivated during these darker months so that you can focus more on fitting in exercise — and less time on worrying about your workouts falling to the wayside.

Find an Accountability Partner

Finding an accountability partner is one of the best methods to remain consistent and stay on track to reach your health and fitness goals. This is one of the many reasons why I love our Start TODAY Facebook group. There you'll find you've got 120,000 friends ready to cheer you on. But you can also look for in-person partners, too.

Having someone to work out with can make fitness a lot more fun. Getty Images/iStockphoto

This can be someone you workout with, a personal trainer or a family member or friend who is also striving to reach their health goals. Let's be honest — canceling a workout session with yourself is easy. But explaining to an accountability partner that you are unmotivated can be more daunting. No one wants to let a friend down!

You don't have to have the exact same goals as your accountability partner. You just need a mutual willingness to commit to a plan together. Look for someone who will pump you up when the darker months wear you down and agree to do the same for them.

Having someone to collaborate with may make your fitness journey more fun and exciting. Maybe your accountability partner knows about cool trails you've never been on or maybe having someone to hold your hand will make you feel brave enough to try a new class that seems intimidating to do alone. Be creative in how you support each other!

Sign Up for a Class

If you’re spending money on something, you’ll find yourself more inclined to attend. That’s why I recommend signing up for a class when the darker months drag you down.

You may need to get out of your house to get your winter workout in!milanvirijevic / Getty Images

There are so many classes that can help increase your energy levels. From pilates and hot yoga to Zumba and spin classes, signing up for one or more of these classes may make more of a difference than you can imagine. Fitness instructors are trained to encourage, challenge, and motivate you to keep it up when you are ready to quit.

Also, just getting out of your house or your usual haunts may really help you get excited about fitness. Exercising in an environment surrounded by like-minded individuals can be energizing and recent research suggests that group fitness can boost your physical and mental health.

Exercise Indoors

The weather outside may be frightful enough to sour your mood, but that doesn’t mean you need to skip your workout session! Try working out indoors. Whether you're following along with free YouTube classes, our December training plan or just dancing around your house, exercising indoors can be a great way to remain on track.

It can be hard to find workout space in your home — mentally and physically. Change your mindset and by changing your environment. Set aside a small section of your living area in a place you can't ignore and dedicate it to your workouts. Whether you put a mat next to your bed or a set of dumbbells next to your couch, you’ll see this visual reminder that your gym is right in front of you.

When it's time for your home workout, set the stage for yourself. The small things you do to make your at-home fitness more atmospheric can become a routine that helps you shift mentally into fitness mode. So close the curtains, turn on the lights, blast music, and get moving!

Wake Up Earlier

If the sun has already set by the time you usually exercise, it may be time to consider waking up earlier. This may not sound ideal to night owls, but if the lack of daylight outside takes a toll on your energy levels, altering your schedule for the upcoming winter months may be in your best interest. As a personal trainer, I always advise my clients to prioritize sleep. That may mean trying to go to bed earlier so that you can wake up earlier to exercise without sacrificing your zzzs.

New gear can uplevel your look — and sometimes your performance. milanvirijevic / Getty Images

Invest in New Gear

Donning fresh gear from head to toe can be a real game-changer. New equipment or workout clothes can feel like a makeover and sometimes we all need that rush of rejuvenation and soaring energy levels to get back into a workout routine!

Whether it be new shoes, leggings, or headphones, consider updating your wardrobe or workout equipment for a fun turnaround to your routine. If money is tight, try organizing a fitness gear swap. A lot of folks have some equipment laying around they don't use or a pair of shorts that don't fit, and they will likely be glad to trade for something they can use.

Change Up Your Music

Listening to the same tunes over and over can get boring. Whether listening to a new genre or artist, changing up your music can be just what you need to renew your motivation!

When your energy starts lagging, turn up the tunes!Steve Prezant / Getty Images

If you love music, sometimes the anticipation of getting to listen to something new will be enough to get you on the treadmill. Have you ever felt curious about a kind of music you don't really hear often? Now is a great time to find some new earcandy! Some genres to check out include rock, hip hop, rap, country, and pop.

But you don't even need to do any of the work of finding new music if that's not fun for you. There are plenty of free playlists on Spotify, YouTube, Pandora, and Apple Music, for more options to browse for a heart pumping beat to power up your workout! In fact, a lot of fitness instructors already have great playlists designed to pair well with different activities and moods.