A recent report from the American College of Sports Medicine reveals that women (and I guess the numbers are not so different men too?) are 30 per cent less likely to engage in physical exercise during the winter months than they are at any other time of the year.

Yikes! That’s quite a big percentage and the worrying thing is that if we’re not exercising then what are we doing? Well maybe we’re sitting around feeling a bit cold and fed up and maybe more tempted to nibble on something that isn’t going to get us to our goal.

So a motivation boost is obviously needed during winter months. But how can we rev it up a notch or two?

Give ourselves an incentive

There are two ways to do this. Either the ‘carrot way’ where you reward yourself with a ‘prize’ every time you behave in a way that is going to get you to your goal. So maybe you get a fabulous facial every time you go to the gym three times in a week. Or, penalise yourself if you don’t. That could involve setting up a pact with yourself where if you miss a session you give a certain amount of money to charity.

According to the author of a new book by Yale professor Ian Ayres, titled ‘Carrots and Sticks: Unlock the Power of Incentives to Get Things Done,’ this works even better if you give money to something you don’t particularly approve of.

Make sure it’s not purgatory

The best way to keep to an exercise routine or new fitness workout is to enjoy it. There’s no point going to the gym every second day if you hate it. Go swimming instead, or join a local hiking club. The aim here is to look forward to your exercise not regard it as punishment and a chore. Zumba is one fun workout you might want to take a look at.

Pack in the support

Thinking of running that 5K? Fancy that half marathon walk for charity? Make sure you get all the support you need to sign up and complete the event by getting a handful of friends involved. That way you’ll pick up on the group’s enthusiasm and it’ll be harder to back out on those wobbly days.

Interestingly, professor Harry Reis of the University of Rochester in the States said that achieving a fitness challenge with a bunch of friends affirms the idea that exercising is part of your ‘core identity.’  We like that!

Has the colder autumn weather affected your exercise sessions?