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Women working out at the Piedmont Atlanta Fitness Center.

The benefits of exercising indoors

Indoor exercise has many health benefits. But when the days are shorter and the weather is cold, rainy or snowy, heading outside for a workout may be the last thing you want to do.

Joel Hardwick, ACSM EP-C, EIM2, an exercise physiologist at Piedmont Atlanta Fitness Center, shares the benefits of indoor exercise and how to find the motivation to work out even on gloomy days.

While outdoor workouts have many benefits, indoor workouts are just as effective if you can’t make it outside.

“In terms of muscular and cardiovascular response, your body will get similar results,” says Hardwick.

Taking your exercise routine indoors can help you:

  • Prevent boredom and work new muscles. There is a benefit to switching up to your workout routine, Hardwick notes. If you normally cycle outdoors, trying a new workout class or cardio machine at the gym will challenge new muscles and prevent boredom.

  • Stay accountable. Taking a class at the gym with others may be motivating during colder months and shorter days. “When you take a fitness class, you have group support – you’re not in it alone,” he says. “When you think that someone in the class is counting on you to be there, it provides accountability you don’t get when you go for a run alone.”

  • Meet your fitness goals. You can squeeze in a great workout in a short amount of time with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and bodyweight exercises. “HIIT workouts are short and sweet, and take no more than 15 to 20 minutes,” says Hardwick. “You can reach your weekly fitness goals in a timely fashion and you can do the workout anywhere, such as in front of your TV or in the garage.”

  • Stay safe. When the days are short and it is dark outside when you leave the office, it can be safer to exercise indoors.

Hardwick notes that you should always consult your physician before trying a new exercise routine, especially vigorous physical activities like HIIT.

How to stay motivated to work out in the winter

Hardwick says he notices fewer gym goers during the colder months and shorter days.

“Many people have a mood shift when it is gloomy and cold outside and can lose motivation to work out,” he says.

Hardwick’s No. 1 motivational tip:

“Change the framework around how you think about exercise,” he says. “A lot of people view it as a chore and something they have to do. Exercise should be something you enjoy. Think of it as a gift you give yourself for better health and more energy. I guarantee you will be much happier and have a more positive outlook when you think of exercise this way.”

Check out more fitness tips from Living Better experts.

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