Winter can be a difficult time of year to stay fit. The cold weather and early sunsets make most people reluctant to venture outdoors. But have you considered all the types of exercise you can perform outside in the winter? For those who dread working out indoors or just want to have a little fun, here are some great outdoor exercises to try this winter.
Ice skating is a winter sport that requires balance and works many of the muscles—especially in the lower body—that you wouldn’t work in other types of exercise. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll enjoy that empowering feeling of gliding gracefully across the ice like a pro. The basic skills of ice skating are also necessary if you’re interested in trying a more complex ice sport like hockey or speed skating. If you’re interested in continuing ice skating year round, search for local indoor skating rinks.
Most people don’t think of running as a winter activity, but in reality, running is beneficial year-round. It burns a large number of calories quickly and even more in the cold weather. Plus, snow running has a number of additional benefits, including a softer cushion for your foot and increased stability thanks to the softer, uneven terrain. Just be sure to stay safe and stay warm during your run. Avoid running in extreme cold that can be too stressful on your heart, and can put you at risk of frostbite.
Both cross-country and downhill skiing are great outdoor exercises are favorites every winter. Cross-country skiing is low-impact, easy to pick up, and burns a lot of calories. It can be fun to trek your own neighborhood after a newly fallen snow if your neighborhood has quiet streets. Downhill skiing provides a form of resistance training and lower body workout; plus it improves your balance. Both types of skiing will get your heart pumping and give you a fantastic cardiovascular workout.
Sledding or Tubing
When most people think of winter exercise, their minds don’t jump to sledding or tubing, but do you remember how your legs burned the last time you did either? Sledding and tubing typically involve hiking up a tall hill in deep snow over and over or, if you’re a parent, pulling a heavy sled around behind you. You’ll get a good leg workout from these activities, and the payoff of sliding down a hill at top-speed is exhilarating. IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: DON’T tube or sled while towed to a powered vehicle, and avoid tubing or sledding near trees or a tree line, or where there is a stream, river, or crevice at the end of a downhill run. Serious head injuries, spinal injuries and death can result if you collide with a tree or get bounced into a crevice. Collisions with other people can also cause serious injuries. Make sure the slope is not to difficult for you to keep control of the inner tube or sled. Check the hill for unexpected obstructions, such as boulders, ice blocks. Also, beware of other participants who might be reckless on the hill. You don’t want them to collide with you.
If the snow is too deep to trudge through and you’d rather walk on top of it, snowshoes will allow you to do so. Snowshoeing is a fun and inexpensive activity: aside from some warm winter clothing, the only gear you will need is a good pair of snowshoes and a set of poles. Snowshoeing is essentially hiking in the snow, but you will need to adjust your steps to the snow, which will work out different muscles in your ankles and legs.
With so many great options to choose from during the winter season, it won’t be hard to find a fun outdoor activity that is the perfect fit for you, and be ready for every winter.