One of the best ways to improve your health, both physically and mentally, is through regular exercise. However, depending on where you live, the cold winter months can be a meaningful obstacle to getting out and staying active. Research indicates that most people gain a little unwanted weight during the winter.
Luckily, there are plenty of things we can do to stay fit and active during the colder months. Here are five of our favorites. Note: please check with your primary care doctor before you start any exercise program.
Play in the snow. You might not like the sight of snow if you get a lot of it where you live, but hopefully you can remember the childhood magic of a snow day. Recapture that magic, and get a great workout, by playing in it! Trekking through the snow is fantastic exercise. Your legs and heart work harder than they would during a typical walk because of the added resistance from the heavy accumulation. Other snow activities—from sledding to snowman building—will also burn more calories than normal. Just make sure to wear dry water-resistant clothing!
Find a coach from your couch. Remember back when people would spend meaningful amounts of money for exercise videos (on VHS tapes, no less)? Well, we’re in an amazing new era where millions of them are now available for free on digital platforms like YouTube. If it’s too cold to go outside, find an online coach you like. Try searching for something that interests you, such as Pilates, kickboxing or CrossFit (there are a lot of other choices, too) and workout in your living room!
Hit the ice. We might as well have some fun if we have to be bundled up. So why not locate the nearest indoor or outdoor skating rink to enjoy some ice skating? Ice skating is great for burning calories, training balance and building endurance. Added bonus: your kids will love it too. No kids? Consider ice skating for a romantic Valentine’s Day outing with your significant other.
Walk inside. Walking is one of the most accessible and fundamental exercises there is. A scenic tour of the neighborhood on a crisp winter day can be invigorating for the body and the mind. But what can we do when it’s truly too cold to spend time outdoors? The answer is simple: hike inside. Head for a shopping mall or an indoor track and walk at a brisk pace for 45 minutes to an hour. Walking from one end of your home to the other works, too. You just might have to do it twenty, fifty or one hundred times!
Skiing is king. Cross country skiing might be the best winter exercise of all. Take advantage of the situation if you are lucky enough to live near reliable snow and you have the right equipment. Otherwise, hit the gym and jump on a cross-country fitness machine or buy an inexpensive home model. Skiing is an incredible cardiovascular workout that works your legs, arms and core muscles without putting too much stress on your joints. That’s a potent combination!
Even if the weather outside is frightful, do yourself a favor and stay active. It’s a great way to stay healthy and shake-off the winter doldrums.