Unconventional Ways to Work Out in the Winter

Words: Carrie Snider

Words: Carrie Snider

Photo: Vladimir Sukhachev

With days getting dark early and the weather being cold, getting out of bed to go work out seems less and less appealing. Generally, in the winter,  people spend less time outside and more time resting, making exercise during this time of year even more crucial.

It will take more effort on your part to work out in the winter. There’s just no doubt about that. To make the idea of exercising more enticing, here are some unconventional ways to work out in the winter you may not have thought of yet. Give one or more of them a try to see what sticks. 

Bring Fitness Indoors with an App

There’s a fitness app for just about everyone out there. Some are free, some require a subscription. So be sure to check out the specifics of each to make sure they fit your fitness goals. Apple Fitness Plus, for example, costs $9.99 a month and offers High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), yoga, Pilates, and other workouts. If you have an Apple Watch, you can sync it to track your progress.

The great thing about using an app is that you aren’t limited to a specific location—you can work out pretty much anywhere that you can find some space be it at work or home or a friend’s house. One free app option is Nike Training Club, where you can filter based on muscle group or intensity. You really have nothing to lose except those extra winter pounds. 

Join an Indoors Winter Sports Team

Even if you weren’t involved in sports in school, you can still join a team now! Most city parks and recreation departments likely have a brochure or website filled with different sports team opportunities waiting for you. You don’t have to be a star player to join, just some effort on your part. 

The great thing is, if you have a team of other players counting on you to come to practice and participate in games, you’re more likely to stick with it. Once the season is over the ground should be thawed enough for you to go outside and enjoy warmer weather activities. 

Gear Up on Every Staircase You Can Find

Sometimes exercising can get boring, so to keep you motivated you’ll need something a little different. A bit unconventional. How about a goal to get up every staircase in your general area? If that’s not possible, find at least one large staircase where you can go up and down multiple times, add jumping jacks in between, walk the halls in between… the possibilities are endless. The best part could be knowing that this is just temporary, especially as those quads start burning. But by the time summer hits, you’ll be glad you did it. 

Locate an Indoor Pool, Sauna, Hot Tub

Sometimes no matter how much you move outside or bundle up, the cold weather creeps into your bones. That’s a definite motivation killer for working out during the winter. Rather than fight the cold, just avoid it altogether and get as warm as possible. Find an indoor pool, sauna, and or hot tub. You might even be able to find a short-term membership to get you through to the springtime. 

Then get on a good schedule to make the best use of these warm workout spots. Stop by on your way to work, on the way home, or on the weekends when you have free time. You can begin by doing laps in the pool and finish with a soak in the hot tub or steam in the sauna. No doubt you’ll sleep well on those cold nights.

Embrace Cold-weather Activities

Winter means cold, but it doesn’t mean you have to sit around doing nothing. There are plenty of cold-weather activities that will give you the exercise your body needs this time of year. Cross-country skiing for 30 minutes can burn about 250 calories. Shoveling snow for 30 minutes can burn about 220 calories. Snowshoeing for 30 minutes can burn about 230 calories. Playing hockey for 30 minutes can burn about 300 calories. Ice skating for 30 minutes can burn about 300 calories.

If it’s winter, it’s a no-brainer that embracing cold-weather activities are a sweet and fun way to get your workout in. When the ice melts and warm weather opens up new opportunities, the cold-weather activities will always be there next time the temperatures drop. 

Switch Up the Time of Day You Workout 

Many people focus on working out in the morning or evening since that falls outside of many people’s work hours. But during the winter, those are also the coldest times of the day during the winter months. If you’re a runner, for example, finding the fortitude to run during the cold, early (and often dark) mornings may feel impossible, causing you to skip workouts. 

But changing the time of day could help. Sure, you probably look forward to relaxing during your lunch hour, but that could also be prime winter exercise time. Especially on sunny days, going for a walk during mid-day winter can be quite pleasant and offer the relaxation you need in addition to some exercise. As an added bonus, when you get home from a long day you’ll be glad knowing your workout is behind you. 

Working out during the winter may not come naturally to most people, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There is plenty out there for you to take advantage of. The number one thing you need to do is make sure you have a plan. How will you work your muscles and get your heart pumping? 

If your regular exercise routine doesn’t translate well to the winter months, be sure to try something else. Why not try one of the unconventional approaches listed above? Especially if you are more apt to exercise with warm-weather activities, give some of these winter activities a whirl. Maybe you’ll come to look forward to exercising during the colder months. 

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