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4 Exercise tricks to beat the winter darkness

Ron Fritzke provides advice on exercising now we have dark winter nights.

It happened again sometime between Saturday night and early Sunday morning. I woke up to my least favourite time of the year - we had reverted to Standard time.

From about November until the second Sunday in March, I have to combat the gloom I face in the evening after work. I do everything I can to fight the dark monster. Now it gets even harder to exercise - precisely during the season that could use some extra workouts to compensate for sloppy eating habits (can anyone say, "holiday feasts and sweets"?).

I use the following four strategies to combat the winter bulge:

1. Do not waste that lunch hour

I have the luxury of setting my hours during the workday.  During the summer, I come home for lunch, eat a slice of boneless chicken breast seasoned with a little spritz of lemon and then take a nap. 

During the winter, I force myself onto the saddle of my bike for an hour ride before gulping down a mayo and sardine sandwich on my way back to work.  (The sardine sandwich may or may not happen. I only include it as a poke in the ribs of my friends who cannot stand the idea of eating smelly fish for lunch.)

2. Get some indoor fitness equipment

There are other days when a workout inside my house seems to fit the bill.  Some people have treadmills, stair-steppers, or stationary bikes.  I have a bicycle trainer stand called the Kurt Road Machine, so my workout does not feel too different from a bike ride outside, except I do not go anywhere.

An indoor ride may not provide the exhilaration of screaming down the road. Still, it does allow you to watch TV and sweat along with your favourite football players, all the time yelling, getting red in the face, and generally making a fool of yourself.  But you will be a physically fit fool, so it is all cool.

3. Renew that Gym Membership during the winter

If you like the gym scene, this is the time of year to renew your membership and take advantage of the many pieces of equipment being paid off with sizable leases or loans. 

Show the gym owners a little love, too, since they put out a product to make people healthier.

If you do not send a bit of business to the local gym owner, he might be tempted to close up shop and open another McDonald's hamburger store.

4. Plan some 'High Volume' exercise on the weekend

My last winter-blues trick is to ensure I do one of my long workouts (on a bike, the ride can be up to three or four hours) on the weekend. In our mountain area, there is enough light throughout the day on the weekend, but the temperature can be so cold that the air has too much of a 'bite' to it. 

That is when I put the bike in the car and drove downhill for an hour to Redding, CA, where winter is their pleasant time of year.  During summer, the temperatures are over 100 degrees, but they have highs in the sixties or seventies during the winter.

I am sure you have a few tricks up your sleeve when it comes to maintaining the level of fitness you worked so hard to achieve throughout the summer.  I also know that some of my tricks will not work very well for a few of you. 

After all, driving an hour from Minneapolis with a bike in the back of your car is only going to deposit you in an area sixty miles away but just as cold as it was at home.

Share some of your ideas

But there may be some 'physical fitness defence mechanisms' you have developed over the years.  Please tell us via the feedback page and let the word be known to the rest of us.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • FITZKE, R. (2011) Four Exercise Tricks to beat the Winter darkness [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Dr Ron Fritzke reviews cycling gear like the CycleOps Fluid2 on his site,  In addition to his private Chiropractic practice, he is on the Sports Medicine team at the College of the Siskiyous.