When it’s the middle of summer, it’s easy to forget how maintaining a fitness routine in the wintertime can be a daunting proposition. I remember one year when the days were short, dark, and freezing cold; I had driven all the way to the gym only to open my car door and have a blast of freezing rain hit my face. I made a split-second decision to abandon my original intent of getting out of my car and going into the gym. I quickly slammed my car door, choosing heated comfort as opposed to a sprint through freezing rain to get to the front door of the gym. When the weather in the winter is bad, any excuse to miss that workout can be all it takes to decide against it.
Rather than resign yourself to quitting fitness in the winter, I think it’s a perfect time to mix it up, try some new things, and quite possibly leave those short, dark, snowy days in better shape than when you started! Here are 15 challenging outdoor workout ideas for the winter that will ensure you’re having some fun and not compromising one bit on challenging your muscles, stability, and cardio strength.
Snowshoes are easy to use; they’re lightweight and easy to carry so that you can get to the destination of your choice and start walking in those snowshoes! Snowshoeing is low-impact and a great cardiovascular workout.
You might think that sledding is just wintertime child’s play, but each time you hike up that hill, you’re crushing those leg muscles. The hill hikes for your return trip down the sledding hill will also give you copious amounts of cardio.
3. Mountain Skiing
If you’re into mountain skiing, you know that there are specific workouts you can do to prepare for ski season. Some of those workouts include squats, lunges, jumps, and step-ups. It’s a lot of legs! So, while downhill snow skiing may not be for the faint of heart, there are always beginning classes and bunny hills. In no time, you’ll work your way up to an incredible workout and bring fun back to wintertime.
4. Cross-Country Skiing
Cross-country skiing uses a lot of muscle mass. Think about all the muscle groups that are engaged in this activity, including the legs, core, and arms. Best of all, there are no special skills required for cross-country skiing. If you can stand up and walk, you can cross-country ski.
5. Build an Igloo
Building an igloo or snow fort can be a lot of work. Packing snow, making blocks, stacking, and maneuvering. Not only is this an excellent workout, but the result is also a pretty cool fort for the kids.
6. Pull a Kid on a Sled
Maybe downhill sledding isn’t for you, and that’s understandable, as the hills can be intimidating, especially if it’s been a while. However, pulling a loaded sled is an incredible workout. You can increase your pace or even run while pulling your kids or grandkids on the sled and see how far you can go. If you don’t have a kid, try pulling your dog (if he’ll cooperate).
7. Shoveling Snow
If you’ve ever shoveled snow for any amount of time because you’re on a mission to clear your walkway, you’ll know that it’s a great workout! You can especially work your core if you take a hearty shovel of snow and throw it off the shovel. If that’s still not enough, shovel faster. Once you’ve cleared your walkways or driveways, move on to the neighbors.
8. Walking in the Snow
Walking in the snow isn’t just child’s play. Wearing boots and moving differently as you lift your legs and maneuver through the snow will target different muscles than walking on a flat surface. Go for a distance and see how many miles you can log for a great fitness challenge.
9. Trail Hiking
Once the snow falls, merely walking is more of a workout than ever. Put on a pair of snow-friendly hiking boots and find trails that are open for hiking in the winter. Not only will you get an amazing cardio workout, but you’ll likely see some breathtaking views.
10. Snowball Fight
When was the last time you had a snowball fight? Having fun in the snow isn’t just for kids. Making snowballs can help you with grip strength, and then once the fight ensues, you’re dodging, running, jumping, and throwing. A snowball fight is a full-body workout.
11. Building Snowmen
Not only are you trudging through deep snow, which can be a challenging workout, but you’re also bending, rolling, and lifting. Not only is building a snowman fun and rewarding, but it also engages all major muscle groups. If one snowman isn’t enough of a workout, build a whole family of snow people.
12. Making Snow Angels
Making a snow angel might not seem like much of a workout at first, but you can enter a race to see who can make the most angels in a minute. You can do this in one-minute intervals for as long as you like, then stand back and look at your handiwork.
13. Ice Skating
Think about all the stabilizer muscles involved in ice skating. If it has been a while, you’re going to experience muscle soreness after taking some laps around the ice. Don’t worry if you’re feeling a bit timid about avoiding injury; most rinks have skate trainers you can hold on to and use for stability until you get the hang of it.
14. Hang Christmas Lights on Your House
If you’ve ever hung anything, whether it be curtains or other handy projects that have you reaching overhead, you’ll know that arm and leg strength are crucial to these tasks. Going up and down a ladder is a workout on its own. Combine that with the arm strength that’s necessary for overhead tasks, and you have a well-rounded workout routine.
15. Hang Christmas Lights on a Tree
You may not be able to hang lights on your home, but if you are not, there are still great options for a décor-centered workout. Try decorating your front porch or the trees and shrubbery on your property.
Stay fit and Healthy All Winter Long.
Cold and snowy weather doesn’t mean you have to forgo your fitness routine. In fact, it’s the perfect time to get creative, mix things up, and potentially learn a new skill. It may even be a chance to get in the best shape of your life!