Once you’ve figured out the right number of layers to put on, exercising outdoors in the winter will be a breeze. Among the benefits are discovering new activities, strengthening your muscles, building endurance, spending quality time with family and friends, and exploring the surroundings of your city or town.
You’ll enjoy the winter much more if you embrace the elements. Snow may be an unwelcome sight when it piles up in your driveway, but it provides resistance and cushion for low-impact activities such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. These activities are easy to learn and offer a great full-body workout. In an article updated in 2018 by Harvard Health Publishing, the number of calories burned in 30 minutes of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing was listed as the same as the number of calories burned in 30 minutes of playing basketball and beach volleyball, running five miles per hour, and swimming the backstroke.
Like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, skating will give you a great low-impact cardio workout that tones muscles and improves balance. It also improves your flexibility. You may need to work harder with outdoor skating since you’re contending with elements such as wind and ice conditions, which can provide an even better workout than indoor skating.
Outdoor running is another great option for winter exercise. You may find your running performance improves since you’re not contending with the heat. Of course, running into the wind or in rough terrain may slow you down, but these challenges will force you to work harder so you’ll strengthen your muscles even more and get an even better workout in.
All sports work muscles and encompass movement in different ways, so including a wide range of activities in your exercise plan will result in a higher level of fitness. Many people also like the variety of participating in summer and winter activities. Tobogganing, sledding and hiking are other fun options you can enjoy with friends and family.
Being motivated to exercise in the winter, especially when that involves bundling up and heading into the cold, can be a challenge. Schedule a weekly outdoor activity with a friend. You’ve now put it into your calendar and you don’t want to let your friend down, so this will force you to show up. Involving friends and family members can motivate others, and it’s a fun way to try new activities.
Outdoor winter workouts can also include exercises you might typically do in the gym. Find bars in playgrounds or parks for pull-ups or tricep dips, and benches for step-ups or elevated push-ups. You can do a wall sit against a fence or tie a resistance band around a tree for pulling and pushing exercises. Playgrounds and parks are generally less busy in the winter, so you’ll have plenty of space and all the equipment you need to get a great workout in.
It’s important to warm up indoors before your outdoor workout as your muscles might tighten up in the cold. Jogging, skipping rope and walking lunges are all effective for warm up.
Dress in layers for your winter workout. Don’t wear cotton as it soaks up moisture, and you don’t want to feel wet when you’re out in the cold. Once you warm up, which likely won’t take long, you can simply take a layer off and tie it around your waist. You may not sweat as much exercising outdoors in the winter compared to the summer, be you’ll still be losing fluids and it’s important to stay hydrated.
Static stretching is a good cool-down after any workout, including the ones you do outside in the winter. When you do an activity like cross-country skiing or skating for the first time, you may be working your muscles in a way you’ve never done before, which places even more importance on warming up before the activity and stretching afterward to prevent injury.
Many people are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes it even more important to get out of the house and exercise. Being out in the fresh air is invigorating. Exercise can go a long way in dealing with the challenges brought on by the pandemic. You’ll feel more energetic and think clearer with daily workouts. Keep in mind that provincial restrictions have put a pause on some outdoor activities, so be sure to check what is allowed before planning your next winter workout.