7 Winter Exercise Ideas You Can Do Outdoors
Winter often represents a time of slowing down, celebrating, and breaking down of good habits like exercise routines. To help avoid these things, you may have to get more inventive with your winter workouts to help prevent holiday weight gain.
While you can always opt for a good indoor workout—whether inside your home gym or at a commercial gym—here are seven winter exercise ideas you can do outside.
Downhill Skiing And Snowboarding
Technically, downhill skiing and snowboarding are two different sports, but since they take place in the same area, I combined the two winter exercise ideas. Downhill skiing and snowboarding generally take place at resorts, as it is safer to go down groomed trails.
For the uninitiated, it can seem like there isn’t much exertion that goes into hurtling downhill on either skis or snowboard. But it takes a great deal of balance, core strength, and fine control of your leg muscles to successfully complete a downhill run without falling. There is a range of difficulties when it comes to ski runs, so you can choose which ones suit your experience level best.
An excellent form of winter exercise is cross-country skiing. Unlike downhill skiing, more of your upper body is exercised by cross-country skiing, as well as being an intense form of lower body workout. So, if you aren’t much into leg day, opting for cross-country skiing can be a great way to work your legs and core without doing static lifts.
As for where you go to cross-country ski, there are a couple of options. You can simply ski anywhere you get enough snow and is flat enough. However, ski resorts often have groomed ski trails you can use for your cross-country skiing efforts.
That’s right, you don’t have to give up running outside just because winter rolls around. There are winter running shoes you can pick up or you can opt to add winter running spikes to your current shoes.
Be sure that you are layering appropriately so that you can actually enjoy your workouts. By having a synthetic fabric base layer shirt, warmer fleece or wool layer shirt, a waterproof windbreaker jacket layer, you should be able to stay fairly dry and warm. Gloves, headbands or hats, and other winter layering pieces can make your runs more comfortable and prevent windburn as well as frostbite.
As a trail runner, I have learned to lean into snowshoeing during the winter as my way to explore the Wasatch Mountain Range. If you enjoy hiking, trail running or spending time up in the mountains during the rest of the year, then you should give snowshoeing a try.
Now, it’s not quite like you’d be like Legolas in Lord of the Rings where you can walk on top of the snow with snowshoes. With snowshoes strapped on, you simply don’t sink as deeply into the snow. It is kind of like walking through sand dunes, rather than walking on ice.
I do recommend poles to help you as you snowshoe for added stability.
When most people think of ice skating, they think of effortless-looking gliding and fluid movements. Even hockey players can look graceful on ice—at least, before they crash into other players. But all that smooth grace takes a lot of work to achieve.
Ice skating takes a lot of balance to just stay upright on your skates, let alone actually skate. All of your leg muscles, from your calves to your glutes, are worked by ice skating. It can also be a great way to develop some greater flexibility and an improved sense of balance, especially if you try to learn a trick or two. Just be sure to fall carefully as it is easy to pick up bruises while ice skating.
Sledding is a great way to get in a group workout to make your outdoor winter exercise more fun. Whether you bring your kids along or just go with friends, there are ways to make sledding a workout.
One way is if you treat sledding like a HIIT workout. Run to the top of the hill, slide down, and repeat. A few rounds of doing that will certainly get your heart pumping, and if you work out with friends, you can race each other.
If you have your children with you for your sledding workout, you can also fit in a resistance workout by pulling them around on their sleds. Not only will your kids have a blast, but you can work your legs and arms at the same time.
Kite skiing—also called snowkiting—is a bit of a misnomer, as you use something more like a parachute to catch the wind, not a standard kite. With a pair of skis (or a snowboard) and a parafoil kite, you can take cross-country skiing to the next level by learning how to use the wind to help propel you along.
While there is a little less effort involved in propelling yourself in kite skiing, that doesn’t mean that kite skiing isn’t a good exercise. In reality, it takes a lot of work to control the kite appropriately and not get swept off your feet—that is, unless you want to get swept off your feet!
It is best to find flat areas or frozen lakes if you want to try kite skiing. More advanced kite skiers can navigate more bumpy terrain, but if you aren’t sure about your skill level, try to find a clear, relatively flat area to make your attempt.
With a little extra effort on your part and these winter exercise ideas, you can make the season something you look forward to when it comes to your exercise routine.