Ways to stay active this winter

It’s cold outside right now. However, don’t let the chilly temperatures keep you from getting outside and exercising.

In fact, with no heat, humidity, or mosquitoes to deal with, working out in winter might turn out to be your favorite!

The American Heart Association offers guidance on how to stay active in cold weather. Because there is less risk of getting overheated as you exercise, you may be able to work out longer in cold weather, which means you can burn even more calories. And exercise can help boost your immune system, which is helpful when colds and flus are in season.

Try these outdoor activities:

  1. Brisk walking or hiking. Walking is one of the easiest ways to get active. The American Heart Association suggests 150 minutes each week.
  2. Jogging or running. Running on snow takes more work than on dry pavement. Be aware of the surface conditions and use caution, as ice and snow can be slippery. Check out tips from Runner’s World.
  3. Shoveling snow. Squatting and lifting can be a great workout. Be careful to avoid injuries, though, as explained in the Chicago Tribune.
  4. Ice skating. You can burn more than 200 calories an hour by skating, according to Healthline. It also helps tone and stretch your muscles as you maintain your balance.
  5. Sledding. Grab the kids and hit the sledding hill to burn more than 450 calories per hour and soak up some vitamin D from the sunlight. See the Farmers’ Almanac for more information.
  6. Cross-country skiing. This activity is widely accepted as “the best cardiovascular exercise known,” according to UW Health.
  7. Snowshoeing. Snow increases the number of calories you burn with each step, according to Fitness magazine. And snowshoeing can double the number of calories burned compared to moderate walking.

Dress for success

In colder temperatures, it’s important to dress in layers so you stay warm and dry. Strong winds and damp conditions can sap your body heat. Your first layer should be a material that wicks moisture away from your skin. Over that, wear fleece or another warm material. The top layer should be a material that’s resistant to wind and water, such as nylon. Don’t forget your hat and mittens! The right clothing choices can help prevent frostbite and hypothermia while keeping you comfortable as you exercise.

Rather stay inside?

If you prefer to stay indoors, you might try one of these activities, from our Wellness page (search on “cold weather” to find Quick Tips: Staying Active in Cold Weather):

  1. Go for walks at the mall with a friend. Local schools and churches may have indoor gyms where you can walk. You may want to use a phone app or pedometer to count your steps.
  2. Get some hand weights or stretch bands to use at home for resistance exercise. You can get fit while you watch your favorite TV show or listen to music.
  3. Use an online exercise video or a smartphone app. This can be a fun way to stay in shape at home.
  4. Take the stairs and fit in walk breaks whenever you can. This will give you extra activity, even on a busy day.
  5. Do active housework like sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, doing laundry, or washing the windows. You can stay active and keep your home looking good!
  6. Join a gym or health club. You can use machines, try a fitness class, or check out a new indoor activity, like dancing or water aerobics.
  7. Get involved in sports leagues in your community or at work. Many cities offer indoor sports such as basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, or swimming.

Getting your workout in when it’s cold outside is not impossible, but it may take some preparation. Make sure you have the right clothing, stay hydrated, and pay attention to the weather. On extra-cold days, or during snowstorms, it might be best to stay indoors. Before you start any new activity or workout program, talk to your doctor.

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