It’s officially winter, so it’s time to break out your cold-weather gear and find ways to stay active outdoors. When the temperature drops below freezing, most people head indoors to the gym or just skip altogether. We get it! The colder, darker days don’t make it easy to leave a warm cozy bed for a chilly outdoor workout.
But maybe this will motivate you: it turns out cold weather is super beneficial for revving up our metabolism and burning even more calories. Who doesn’t want to get closer to that toned body faster, huh?
And luckily, there are plenty of fun, challenging, and effective workouts that will get you moving! In this blog post, we will share nine of our favorite outdoor workouts for winter.
Let’s hop to it!
1. Walking & Running
You guessed it – walking and running top the list as some of the best outdoor exercises for the winter. Not only is it easy to bundle up against the cold air, but both activities can be done almost anywhere, making them incredibly convenient.
Often holiday travels or busy schedules can keep us from our usual gym training – therefore, heading straight out the front door for a walk is an easy way to keep up your fitness routine. (And pump those arms to get your upper body working too!)
Not to mention, walking and running offer a great way to stay fit while exploring different paths around town and gets you soaking up some Vitamin D (even on cloudy days).
And if you’re feeling creative, there are plenty of ways to mix your cardio workout up, like sprinting or intervals.
2. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Speaking of intervals… high intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way to get an effective workout in a short amount of time. Put on your winter coat, head outside, and try running fast for 30 seconds, followed by two minutes of jogging or walking. Repeat this pattern several times until you reach your desired duration or intensity level.
Looking for total body exercises to get your muscles burning? We got you. Go ahead and mix in other exercises into your workout, such as these:
Upper Body & Lower Body Circuit
- Get down on all fours with your hands approximately shoulder-width apart
- Straighten your arms in front of you with your feet straight behind you
- Lower your chest to the floor and push back up (option with knees on the ground too!)
- Start on the floor with hands hip-width apart – toes straight behind you.
- With your hands out front (or with elbows at 90 degrees) hold the push-up position
- Hold the position for at least 30 seconds
- Start standing with your stance slightly wider than hip-width
- Push your rear back and squat down as if you’re squatting down on the toilet – keep your body weight in the heels and core tight
- Return to starting position and repeat!
- The starting position is the same as squat – with feet hip-width apart
- From the bottom of your squat, jump vertically up towards the sky while swinging your arms upward for momentum
- Return to a soft landing on the balls of your feet
- Start with your legs shoulder-width apart
- Step forward with your right leg as your left knee bends behind you
- Bend both knees to 90 degrees
- Straighten as you step forward with the opposite leg to repeat
- Start with feet hip-width apart
- Squat down, so your hands are on the floor in front of you
- Kick your feet back – so you are in the push-up position with arms out front
- Right away, return your feet back toward your chest and to the squat position
- Jump to the sky!
Add resistance bands or portable hand weights to increase the difficulty on any of these exercises. Plus, bands are easily to put in your pocket as you head out the door!
3. Stair Climbing
Looking for a great way to work your lower body? Hit the stairs! Universities and parks are great places to look. (Think stadiums and park benches).
Stair climbing is an excellent to add to your workout routine – it can improve your cardiovascular system and stamina while strengthening your legs – quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
At the park? Try one leg step ups on a park bench or on the edge of playground equipment. Do as many reps as you can in sixty seconds. Rest for ninety seconds and repeat!
It’s great for getting your heart rate up on those chilly winter days!
If you live up north where snowfall is common, snowshoeing is a great activity to add to your exercise regime. It burns a hefty amount of calories for a leisure activity – up to 1,000 calories an hour, depending on terrain and effort. (Much more than walking, which comes in at around 300 calories per hour.)
Snowshoeing can improve your balance, coordination, and cardiovascular fitness.
It works the muscles in your arms, legs, and core.
Plus, snowshoeing is a total body workout that can easily be done with family or friends. To start, all you need is a pair of snowshoes and some fresh powder, and you’re good to go!
5. Cross-Country Skiing
Believe it or not, cross-country skiing is one of the most physically demanding sports out there.
And it’s low-impact to boot – so almost everyone can take part.
Also, cross-country skiing is both an upper and lower-body workout making it one of the most efficient ways to burn calories, increase fitness and build muscle. Go ahead, get out there and feel the burn!
Unlike some other winter activities, starting cross country can be an investment to purchase the equipment. But your toned arms, legs, chest, and shoulders will thank you!
Finally, skiing is a great opportunity to bond with friends and family on the trail all day.
And you never know what could be around the bend….
Speaking of trails… If you’re lucky enough to live near some trails, head out for a hike with friends and family. Hiking is an awesome way to strengthen your lower body and improve fitness levels.
Not to mention you can do it while taking in (and snapping) those gorgeous winter views to your Instagram account. Who wouldn’t look forward to that?!
You can also add in some quick bodyweight exercises to get more bang for your buck out there. (If the switch backs weren’t enough!)
Just remember to dress warmly and bring plenty of snacks! Your body will thank you!
7. Skiing & Snowboarding
Fresh powder hit the ground? Well, if you love being on the slopes, skiing and snowboarding are great activities for getting your heart rate up in the winter months. Since you spend most of your time skiing or boarding in a squat position, both exercises heavily target your lower body. This builds up your hamstrings, glutes, calves, and core muscles.
Skiing and snowboarding are also great ways to work on coordination, balance, as well as cardio from all that carving down the mountain.
Similar to cross-country, then it can be an investment in equipment if you want to make this part of your regular cardio and strength training regime.
Ready to jump in and head toward the mountain? If you’re a beginner, start with the bunny hill before you stand at the top of a black diamond.
Your knees will thank you! 🙂
8. Ice Skating
Who doesn’t love to hit the ice with a trip to their local ice skating rink? Whether you’re power-skating, racing, or simply learning a few moves, this activity is great for improving fitness, coordination and balance.
Not to mention those laps around the rink improve your leg strength and mobility in your knees, hips, and feet. Plus, it’s just plain fun and a great way to get out and exercise through the winter months.
Before you start a new skating routine, you want to snag a helmet, warm clothing, and the right fitting skates for your feet.
You might be thinking, yeah, right? But sledding is a fun activity that you can do with the family and provides an awesome workout at the same time.
Think about it – walking up that big hill strengthens your glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, core, etc. No doubt, sledding can be a total body workout! I promise you, every muscle will be screaming at you after a few trips. 🙂
Not only will sledding improve strength, but pushing yourself (and perhaps kiddos!) up the hill several times is also a great way to get your heart rate up, and build stamina. Make sure to push and pull with your legs and not your back!
Remember, when you get started, choose your sled wisely and avoid grease on the saucer sled. (Think Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation!)
Ok, who’s ready to add sledding to their workout routine now?!!
Bonus: Snowball Fights
Last but not least, don’t forget about the fun of a good old-fashioned snowball fight! Not only is it a great way to get the family together and have some fun, but you can also sneak in some great cardio in as well!
Benefits of Outdoor Workouts
Aside from being a great way to mix up your workout routine, you can see that outdoor workouts also bring several physical and mental benefits to your wellness routine. From improved cardiovascular health to increased endorphins and reduced stress levels, there are plenty of reasons why you should get outdoors this winter.
Outdoor workouts provide an excellent way to keep your body in shape. They can help boost cardiovascular health and improve coordination, balance, strength, and endurance. Plus, as an added bonus, it’s a great way to soak up some much-needed Vitamin D from the sun!
Getting outdoors has also been shown to provide numerous mental benefits. From reducing stress and anxiety to improving mood and boosting feelings of general well-being, getting out in nature can do wonders for your mental health. As a matter of fact, moving your workout outdoors has been shown to reduce depression and improve mood!
So don’t let the colder temperatures keep you inside this winter – get out and enjoy some of these awesome outdoor workouts! You’ll be glad you did.
Pro Tips for Outdoor Workouts
Warm up & Cool down well before outdoor workouts
This can help you avoid injuries and perform at your best. Listen to your body and take regular breaks throughout the workout if needed. Stay hydrated – even in cold weather, your body still needs adequate water intake! Don’t forget to cool down after the workout by stretching or going for a light walk.
Grab a Friend
Team up with a friend to keep you accountable and make your workout more fun! Having someone else to push you through the tough times is invaluable. Plus, it’s far safer to exercise outdoors in winter when it’s darker – having someone by your side is always better than going alone.
So don’t hesitate – grab a friend and get outdoors this winter! Have fun, stay safe, and reap the benefits of your awesome outdoor workout.
Get the right gear
No matter which outdoor workout you choose, make sure to dress appropriately for the weather. Invest in some good quality winter gear such as a warm coat, waterproof pants, hat and gloves. Layering is key when it comes to staying warm when exercising outside – so don’t be afraid to pile it on!
So there you have it, nine outdoor workouts that will keep you fit, challenged and motivated this winter! So don’t let the colder weather stop you from getting active – bundle up, head out and get your workout done! (And take advantage of the lower temperatures to burn even more calories!)
The best part? You can do almost all of them with friends or family for some quality time in nature. So what are you waiting for? Get outside and get moving!
Jules writes about her life as a migraine warrior, chronic illness fighter, and pretty much all things faith, fitness, and food! She is passionate about encouraging others in their journey to health and wholeness based on her personal experiences. Jules has certifications in personal fitness training and nutrition.
She previously managed digital marketing teams in large tech firms – but today you can find her writing, running, or playing with her pups.