Five fun ways to use winter as an exercise tool

How this season’s snow and ice can be your fitness friends.
Published December 2, 2018

Winter is upon us, and this year’s has been predicted to be a classic winter full of snow. Many people get turned off of outdoor exercise once the temperature starts to drop, but why not take advantage of it?

As long as you are dressed properly and exercising safely, outdoor winter workouts are perfectly fine and actually encouraged.

Here are some basic safety tips to keep in mind before you head outside, thanks to Mayo Clinic:

  • Layer up – wear layers of clothing that you can easily strip off and put back on. You don’t want to be too cold, but you also don’t want to sweat. Mayo Clinic recommends a thin first layer of a synthetic material, like polypropylene, as opposed to cotton – which will stay wet on your skin if you get sweaty. Second, put on a layer of wool or fleece to insulate you, and then a final outer layer that’s both waterproof and breathable.
  • Protect your extremities – our bodies focus on keeping our cores warm when it’s cold outside, so make sure you keep your head, ears, hands, and feet warm and dry.
  • Stay hydrated – it can be hard to remember to do this in cold weather because we often don’t feel thirsty, but it’s still just as important.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Make sure your shoes have enough traction for snowy and icy areas.
  • Wear reflective clothing if you’re exercising at night

Now, for the fun part! Here are five fun ways you can use winter as an exercise tool this season:

Tap into your inner child and get into a snowball fight: You did it as a kid, why not now? Remember, exercise is supposed to be fun!

Get back to basics and shovel your own snow – no blowers, and no hired help: An hour of shovelling snow could burn about 400 calories.

Take up a winter sport – just for the fun of it, no need to go pro: Ice skating for an hour could burn around 300 calories, while cross-country skiing could burn as much as 500.

Keep up your outdoor walking/running routine even though it’s cold: There’s no reason you can’t still go on your morning walk or your Sunday afternoon jog just because it’s cold – just follow the safety tips mentioned above and enjoy the winter scenery while you get a workout in.

Make a winter obstacle course for the whole family: This is a fun idea that you can really make your own. Just get creative and think about things you can do with the kids outside that will get all of you moving but in a super fun way, even on those days when you’d rather stay cozy inside with a mug of something hot and a book! Here is a simple obstacle course outline to get you started:

  • Start with jogging on the spot to get your heart rate up.
  • Then head over to the snowball station, where you squat down to make five snowballs, then throw them at a target, such as three cans stacked up.
  • Jog to the next station, where you get down on the ground and make a snow angel – then get up and jog to the next stop.
  • Do a set of lunges while holding a couple dumbbells – get different sizes and weights so the whole family can take part, and offer the option of no weights.
  • Jog back to the beginning and repeat a couple times.