If the colder weather wasn’t enough, the darker days make heading outdoors for a walk less and less enticing. Sure, it’s normal to want to stay indoors. While you can definitely get a good walking workout done inside, you don’t have to give up your outdoor walks and beneficial time in nature.
For inspiration to continue with your walking routine, consider these ideas:
Wearing a runner’s headlamp, warm workout gear and light-colored reflective accessories can help you perform well while staying safe in the dark. “Set out your warm, cozy workout clothing ahead of time,” says Rachel MacPherson, a Montreal-based certified personal trainer. “Be sure to dress in breathable layers to wick sweat but keep you nice and warm. Set these out where you will see them when you get up, so you are more likely to remember how committed you are.”
A few minutes of movement before heading outside can help you feel ready to brave the elements and get the blood flowing to your muscles to prevent injury. “Get warm before heading out by doing a few crunches or jumping jacks in the living room,” says Amanda Joplin, a Seattle-based certified athletic trainer. “It will make the dark and cold temperature less shocking.”
Think about how you’ll feel after going for a walk and use that as motivation to get out the door. Take the darkness into consideration when you think about your feelings, because you may do more introspection when you aren’t distracted by the scenery. “Before you decide to skip the walk, take 30 seconds to envision how you will feel in an hour from now,” says Noam Dinovitz, LCSW, a Philadelphia-based mental health therapist. “Now take 30 seconds to envision how you will feel if you didn’t go.” The hope is that either the prospective sense of accomplishment in pushing yourself to go for the walk or the prospective disappointment of not going for your walk, can be enough to help you make the decision to go even if it’s dark.”
Make a dark, cold morning less intense by carrying hot coffee or tea to sip along the way. “Instead of focusing on how cold and dark it [is], you can enjoy your favorite drink,” says Alex Tauberg, CSCS, a Pittsburgh-based board certified sports chiropractor. “Your drink will keep you warm and give you something to look forward to when preparing to go on your walk. That can help you find that extra motivation.”
Find a like-minded friend who will stick with your walking routine, no matter the season. “Get together and walk in the dark,” Joplin says. “You’re less likely to back out, the conversation will make it go by faster, and it’s also safer, if that’s a concern.”
Whether your walk is completely ensconced in darkness or you witness the start of the day, gazing skyward can make your walk more enjoyable. “Some planets are only visible in the pre-dawn hours, so enjoy the starlight,” says Jeanette DePatie, a Los Angeles-based certified fitness trainer. “A sunrise can also be the perfect moment to take a deep breath and enjoy the beauty around you,” she adds.
Walking solo in the dark may feel lonely, but you’ll feel less alone if you know that you’re part of something bigger. “A great way to keep you motivated is to join a walking challenge,” says Jennifer Fidder, a Miami-based personal trainer. “Share your goals with friends and family, which can help keep you on track.”
Enjoying great narration can help you focus on something other than your dark surroundings. “Find a hard-to-put-down podcast that you love – storytelling, true crime or personal growth podcasts that you cannot get enough of,” says MacPherson. “Save your favorite for only if you get up and go for a walk.”
Choosing to go for a walk, despite the dimly lit sky, can be empowering. “Motivation isn’t a feeling as much as it is a choice,” says Dinovitz. “We often wait for some kind of spark or inspiration to propel us into taking action, but the reality is that motivation is our decision to take action. So when it’s dark and gloomy outside, remind yourself that the only thing stopping you from going outside is you.”