There’s no time like the present to prioritize your physical fitness—even if that time is in the middle of winter. Just because Jack Frost may be nipping at your nose, toes, and fingers doesn’t mean you have to press pause on your exercise goals. Instead, it’s an opportunity to get creative or, perhaps, try something entirely new.
It’s time to set your alarm, grab your slip on sneakers, and whip up a gingerbread-flavored protein shake because we’ve got nine winter workout ideas that’ll keep you motivated throughout the solstice. With both indoor and outdoor ways to work up a sweat and get your new year fitness journey started, there’s something here for every go-getter to get fired up about.
6 Ways to Stay Active Outdoors This Winter
Winter seems to be the time of year everyone wants to embark on a new fitness journey. There’s only one problem: it’s snowing outside!
Sure, the gym is an option. But why not try some outdoor winter activities?
Explore these winter exercise ideas to stay in shape even when it’s cold out.
#1 Take Off on a Snowy Hike
Lace up your boots and grab a hiking stick! Some of the best hiking trails are even prettier when they’re covered in a blanket of snow. Just be sure to keep an eye on the weather and fill up your pack with all of the essential snow gear like:
- Plenty of layers, including long underwear, fleece pullovers, and an insulated jacket
- Proper footwear, including insulated, waterproof boots with microspikes for extra traction
- All of the bundling accessories like hats, mittens, neck warmers, and warm socks
#2 Reap the Benefits of Winter Runs
Cold weather has been shown to help your body burn fat quicker than if you were exercising in warm weather. So, if running is your outlet of choice in the summer months, why not tap into the benefits of taking to the open road in winter?
Just make sure to have comfortable shoes with a good tread, and watch out for patches of ice!
#3 Break a Sweat Shoveling
Anyone who’s ever had to dig themselves out from beneath a mountain of snow just to find their front stoop knows that shoveling is no joke. So, if you’ve recently been hit with some winter weather, skip your traditional workout and pick up a shovel instead.
Plus, it’s a full-body workout with benefits for your arms, legs, and core. Extend your workout and win a few extra points with your neighbors by offering to take care of their driveway, too.
#4 Take to the Slopes
If you live in a mountainous part of the country, take to nature’s gym for your winter workout routine. Whether you prefer alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, or snowboarding, you can’t go wrong by spending a day on the slopes. These winter sports are sure to increase your heart rate and your coordination.
#5 Get Your Heart Rate Up on the Rink
You don’t need to master toe loops and triple axels on the ice in order to get a workout on the skating rink. Ice skating gets your heart pumping, and it’s an ideal way to improve balance, build muscle in your legs and abdominals, and maintain flexibility in your joints.
The best part? Warming up with a mug of hot cocoa afterward.
#6 Go for a Winter Walk
Even a simple walk at a comfortable pace is better than staying indoors when it comes to your physical and mental health. Explore your favorite trail on a blustery day, or do some research to find a path you haven’t yet uncovered in your local area.
For pet-lovers, this is the perfect chance to get your pup in on your winter exercise routine, too!
3 Ways to Stay Active Indoors This Winter
Maybe an outdoor winter workout routine isn’t for you. Maybe the weather outside is just a little too frightful. That’s okay! There are plenty of ways to stay in shape while staying indoors (even if you don’t have a gym membership).
#1 Nama-stay Inside
Yoga is an ideal way to care for your mental and physical health during the winter. It has been known to improve the way people handle stress and promote relaxation.1 Lots of yogis love to take classes in studios, but beginners can get started with nothing more than a yoga mat and some instructive videos online.
There are postures and exercises for every skill level, including kids and grandparents! Chair yoga, in particular, can be a comfortable option for people with decreased mobility.
Plus, if the winter months have got you feeling a bit blue, these yoga poses are known for being helpful in dealing with anxiety2:
- Forward Bend Poses (like Big Toe Pose and Bound Angle Pose)
- Chest-opening poses (like Bow Pose or Camel Pose)
Similarly, these classic poses are praised for their calming effects:
- Child’s Pose
- Corpse Pose
- Consciousness seal
There are plenty of guides online to help beginners understand how to do these poses, as well as instructions for poses that are said to ease a wide range of ailments (both mental and physical).
If the physical activity of yoga isn’t your style, taking a dance or cardio class could be another fun way to get your body and mind moving.
#2 Diversify Your At-Home Workouts
Plenty of exercises can be done without leaving your house or purchasing any equipment. Here you’ll find some quick exercises you can incorporate into your daily schedule. This list is work-from-home-friendly—a few reps of these workouts throughout the day can make a big difference without making you miss a meeting or spend extra time going to the gym.
- Wall sits: 3 sets of 30-second reps
- Lunges: 3 sets of 10-20 reps on each leg
- Planks: 3 sets of 30-second reps
- Pushups: 3 sets of 10 reps
- Crunches: 3 sets of 15 reps
- Squats: 3 sets of 10 reps
This is a good place to start, but you can definitely increase the number of reps you do or the amount of time you hold a pose as you become stronger.
The best part? You can mix and match until you find a fitness routine that works for you.
Even if you’ve got limited free time, you can still squeeze in an outdoor activity or great exercise class. Try fitting in reps of lunges or squats while you’re brushing your teeth, or wall sits while watching TV.
#3 Set Aside Time to Stretch
And we mean really stretch.
Learning to stretch in a productive and meaningful way can often be the best way to start your day. Here are just a few of the benefits:3
- Injury prevention
- Reduced pain
- Increased blood flow to joints (meaning decreased joint stiffness)
- Reduced stress
- Improved posture
There are a few different types of stretching, but the stretching you’ll most likely do to begin your day is known as static stretching. In other words, you’ll be holding poses that stretch certain parts of your body in order to relax your muscles.
For a stretch before a workout, on the other hand, you might prefer active stretching (like jogging or walking) or dynamic stretching (which involves movement and momentum rather than holding poses).
Sometimes stretching might be the only regular exercise you can fit into your day, and that’s okay! Whether you’re gearing up for a winter jog or just trying to relax your joints, stretching will have a positive impact on your health.
Benefits of Working Out in Winter Months
Don’t feel like you have to move your favorite outdoor exercise activities indoors to stay fit this winter. According to Harvard Health, working out in the cold can actually be better for you than a summer workout. You may even lose more calories than you would during a hot, sweaty summer workout.4
The following physical health benefits are possible when you take advantage of the cold winter weather:
- Improved endurance. When your body doesn’t have to work as hard to keep cool, you’ll be able to work out for longer periods of time.
- Increased fat-burning. Some studies show that working out in cold weather burns fat more efficiently than in warm weather.
- Less stress on the heart. This benefit goes hand in hand with improved endurance. Jogging in 40°F weather strains your heart much less than jogging on a hot summer day.
Beyond your physical health, focusing on your fitness during this time of year may be beneficial for your mental health, too. As you may know, regular exercise releases endorphins, which improve your overall feeling of wellness.5 This boost of endorphins is especially crucial in the winter when you aren’t getting your full dose of Vitamin D from the sun.
It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a HIIT workout or chair yoga. When you make a conscious effort to get moving, you’re giving your mental health that extra attention it needs to make it through the winter months.
Don’t Forget to be Gentle With Yourself
Picking a winter workout plan doesn’t mean you have to stay locked into a routine you don’t like. When the routine you’ve been using starts to become tedious or just isn’t enjoyable anymore, switch it up! There are plenty of ways to improve your physical and mental fitness without running a 10k every day.
Follow your body’s lead and take it easy on yourself. Winter can be a hard time of year to stay positive, so there’s no reason to stick to a routine that doesn’t make you happy.
Vionic: Shoes That Are Fit For Your Winter Workout Plan
Whether you’re taking your physical activity workout outdoors or staying active inside this winter, make sure you’re lacing up with the right shoes.
At Vionic, we have everything from waterproof boots to active sneakers with Three-Zone Comfort so that your footwear can keep up with you no matter where you go.
Vionic—where motivation meets style and support.
- “The Benefits of Yoga.” American Osteopathic Association. https://osteopathic.org/what-is-osteopathic-medicine/benefits-of-yoga/
- “Yoga for anxiety.” Yoga Journal. https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/yoga-by-benefit/anxiety/
- Kleine, Hope. “Benefits of Stretching.” South Dakota State University Extension. Updated 13 March, 2019. https://extension.sdstate.edu/benefits-stretching
- “The wonders of winter workouts.” Harvard Health. 1 December, 2018. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-wonders-of-winter-workouts
- Steed, Alan. “Easing SAD effects with exercise.” Allina Health. 9 February, 2018. https://www.allinahealth.org/healthysetgo/move/easing-sad-effects-with-exercise
- “Winter fitness: Safety tips for exercising outdoors.” Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20045626
- “Winter Sun Safety: What to Know About Protecting Yourself During Colder Months.” Skin Cancer. https://www.skincancer.org/press/2018-winter-sun-safety/