Winterize Your Workout: Learn to Love Exercising Indoors

In the springtime, exercisers across Michigan hang up their gym passes and take their cardio outside. But this time of year, the migration moves the opposite way. Cooler weather and fewer hours of sunlight mean that once again it’s time to transition from working out outside to doing it in a gym. And maybe that’s a good thing! Studies show that sweating indoors in a social environment increases motivation. There are other benefits too: No risk of getting sunburnt, the air is always the perfect temperature and you have loads of different machines to choose from.

The one downfall? Doing cardio on a machine, like a treadmill, is easier than performing the same movement outside, meaning it can be tough to keep yourself challenged. And it can be boring! But with a few tips, you’ll be welcoming spring even fitter than you are today.

  • Boost the incline. Running on a flat treadmill is easier than running on pavement. What can make it a lot tougher? Running on an incline. Even just raising the platform 1 percent is enough to mimic the effort you’d put into running outside. Crank it up to closer to 10 percent if you want a real challenge. An incline is great if you’re a walker, too. Walking at a 12 percent incline results in the same elevated heart rate as if you were running 6 mph on a flat surface.
  • Don’t get lost in a show. It can be easy to tune out of the exercise you’re doing by tuning into a TV show on one of the flat screens at the gym. But when you forget about your workout, it can be easy to stop exerting as much effort and to lose focus on form. It’s fine to glance at the TV every now and then, but don’t become so engrossed that you’re just phoning it in on the elliptical.
  • Still stay entertained. When you’re outside, you are constantly seeing new sights and people. So when you move indoors, you might find it boring to stare at the same four walls the whole time. That’s where music can come in. Listening to music while working out helps distract you from the discomfort, lifts your mood and even gets you running or cycling further than you would without it. Here are some tips on how to create your perfect workout playlist.
  • Walk through the doors with a game plan. What you don’t want to do is to head to the gym without any idea of what you want to do. Map out your workouts for the week with specific equipment you want to use each time. That way you have a mental checklist of what you need to accomplish as opposed to having to think about what you want to do the entire time.
  • Pick up a copy of the class schedule. Your gym probably has lots of different workout classes, try some of them! Researchers have found that the more monotonous a gym routine, the less likely you are to stick with it. One week give Zumba a shot, then yoga, then kickboxing. You may not just be better about showing up at the gym, you might also find a new activity you love.


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Photo credit: Mikhail Goldenkov

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