The Best Winter Activities to Keep You Fit
Whether you’re an avid gym attendee or you enjoy outdoor running, winter often brings a need for switching up your workout routine. Not only does trying new activities keep it interesting, but it’s also essential to regularly switch your workouts to break through plateaus and keep improving. After all, fitness is functional to what you’re doing, and just because you run twenty miles a week doesn’t mean a rock-climbing workout won’t absolutely kick your booty.
If you’re struggling to find your motivation or you’re just not enjoying your typical workouts anymore, switch it up! You may be surprised at how lackluster your workouts have felt once you try a new activity. Switching it up might give you a boost you didn’t even know you needed! Try these excellent activities to keep you active and fit this winter.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiing and snowboarding are excellent ways to stay active and have tons of fun in the colder months. Both skiing and snowboarding are fantastic leg workouts, and both require significant core strength. Whether you are an experienced skier or not, you’re sure to get a good workout while having a blast.
If the idea of speeding down a hill with something strapped to your feet doesn’t sound fun, consider cross-country skiing. Cross-country skiing involves strapping skis on your feet and using the poles and your muscles to move along mostly flat terrain.
Muscles worked: calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and core.
Like riding bikes and other favorite childhood past times, all those times you were just having fun with your friends, you were also burning tons of calories and staying active trudging up and down hills, pulling your sled.
This winter, you can relive your childhood fun while staying active and take your family or friends sled riding. For more of a workout, push one of your friends on a sled across level ground. There’s a reason many gyms have sleds to load up with weights and push or pull – it’s an excellent full-body workout!
Muscles worked: cardio, full body.
Another favorite holiday activity that’s also a great way to stay active is skating on the ice! Whether you go to a frozen pond or head to the indoor ice rink, skating is a fun cardio and full-body workout.
Muscles worked: cardio, legs (hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes), and core.
The Best Winter Workout Gear
Exercising and staying active outdoors can be fun and beneficial to your fitness. However, if you don’t dress appropriately, you probably won’t have much fun, and you could even get injured or fall ill.
Dressing appropriately in the winter becomes more critical when you’re working out hard enough to sweat. You need to consider dressing dry along with dressing warm, because sweating and soaking your clothing leaves you cold, miserable, and at an increased risk of hypothermia.
Ideally, your first layer is thin, synthetic fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin. If it’s freezing out, add a middle layer like fleece to keep you extra warm. Then add your outer layer to protect from the elements. Keep in mind that waterproof jackets keep your sweat in as much as they keep the rain out.
Accessorize with hats, gloves, scarves, and appropriate socks and shoes as well. Opt for brighter colors in the winter months as they’re often darker with decreased visibility.
Some other things to consider while exercising in the cold weather:
- Protect your skin from the dry, cold air and wind. Stay hydrated and moisturize your skin. You also should still use an SPF to protect your skin from the sun even on the coldest winter day.
- Be aware of ice and slush that you could easily slip on and get injured.
- Warm-ups become increasingly important as your muscles are at an increased risk for spraining or worse when you exercise them cold.
- As you warm up and your body temperature rises, before you get sweaty, begin to remove layers. You can put them back on as you cool down, but the worst thing that can happen when exercising in cold weather is to have wet clothing.
- Hydration is still equally important, even though you might not get as thirsty.
If all these outdoor activities sound fun and all, but you’re just not into the cold weather, consider trying new indoor workouts this winter.
Rock climbing is a full-body workout experience unlike any other. You’ll be using your legs, arms, back, and core to hang on and climb walls suitable to your experience level. Your local community center might have rock climbing or search for the closest rock-climbing center.
Muscles worked: Full body, back, shoulders, and biceps.
Join a kickboxing club or take a kickboxing class at your gym. Boxing is an excellent way to break a sweat and work out in a new and exciting way. You’ll feel powerful while working your shoulders and core and getting a killer cardio workout.
Muscles worked: Cardio, shoulders, and core.
Basketball is an excellent cardio workout, and it’s loads of fun. Whether you’ve got any skills or not, bouncing a ball and running up and down the court will have you laughing, sweating, and building new neural pathways.
Take it up a notch by doing some old-school gassers, formerly known as suicides, on the court. Anyone that played basketball in high school remembers these killer cardio workouts.
Muscles worked: Cardio.
Swimming is an awesome aerobic exercise, and its lack of impact makes it a great choice for an active rest day or cross-training when your joints need a break. Swimming laps requires coordination and breathing techniques and is a surprisingly difficult cardio workout.
Muscles worked: Cardio.
The winter is as good a time as any to introduce new ways to stay active and keep fit. Trying new things can keep you from getting bored of the same old, tired gym routine, but it’s also important to switch up your workouts to improve your fitness in multiple ways. Bust through plateaus and awaken your inner child this winter, but whatever you do, dress appropriately, stay warm, and stay fit!