Being a Colorado native, I enjoy the winter months just as much as the summer months. I love the snow, the cold, and the ice, and look forward to the new wealth of activities this chilly time of year brings. However, I have come to realize that most people do not feel the same as me! I hear lots of groans and grumbles when Mother Nature swoops in with her frosty mornings, and I see more and more people resigning themselves to the confinement of the gym… or even worse, more seem to go into winter hibernation all together!
Luckily, there are so many fun activities to get your body moving, to stay healthy, and to enjoy the outdoors. So bundle up, get outside, and start playing!
Yes, I realize not everyone has the majestic Rocky Mountains in their backyard but cross-country skiing is an awesome cardio workout and can be done anywhere. Hills and valleys add more intensity to this already-tough workout, but flatlanders in the Midwest can still take advantage of their natural surroundings. If you don’t own a pair of skis and boots, that is completely fine. Most local sporting goods stores like Sports Authority will rent them to you fairly cheaply. Be sure to wear a heart rate monitor so you can watch those calories sizzle right off!
Snowshoeing falls into the same category as cross-country skiing because it torches insane amounts of calories while still allowing you to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature. However, from my experience, I have learned that snowshoeing is great for people who are concerned with falling on skis. There is little chance that will happen on snowshoes! Snowshoeing is also a great activity if you have a dog that needs to get outside and run because the endless supply of snow will intrigue him all day while sufficiently exhausting him that night! Helpful tip: Don’t forget to take trekking/skiing poles with you while snowshoeing. The arm movement will help burn more calories while providing you with stability in the deep, fluffy stuff.
3. Trail running.
I know so many of you out there are hardcore runners who resign yourself to the treadmill for the majority of winter. However, you don’t have to get stuck indoors! Pavement tends to get icy during the coldest months, but dirt and grass trails are not as slippery and still are manageable. Additionally, if you are going to try winter trail running, invest in a pair of YakTrax or something similar to provide you with extra traction on the bottom of your running shoes. They may take a bit of getting used to, but once you realize that you can step confidently, you will enjoy running outside that much more!
4. Ice skating.
I know, I know, you have not been skating since you were a child! However, it’s time to change that and ice skating can be such a fun and enjoyable workout that you can experience with friends or family members. According to the Mayo Clinic, ice skating can burn 511 calories per hour for a 160-lb. individual. That is some serious cardio! Most towns have local ice skating rinks where skates can be rented, and I have noticed more and more outdoor rinks popping up in various cities. Besides, there is nothing better than a hot cup of cocoa enjoyed after a long day on the ice!
For most, this will likely place you indoors in the winter, but it will take you away from your typical gym environment while still providing a killer strength training workout. Seriously, try walking away from your first time climbing without having insanely sore forearms—I dare you! Additionally, climbing will help you improve both your core strength and balance.
Rock climbing gyms are popping up all around the country and it will only take a quick Google search to find the one nearest to you. Sure, there are some necessary gear requirements like a climbing harness, shoes, and chalk, but those can all be rented at any climbing facility. Additionally, “intro to climbing” classes are typically offered and these can help you out with the basic knots and belay skills required to get up on the climbing wall.
Don’t feel like dealing with a harness and belay? Try bouldering! Bouldering is different than climbing because you are focused in traveling horizontally across the rock face instead of going up it, and you will never be any higher than 10-15 feet off the ground. You will have a spotter, or a person who stands below you to help brace you when you fall off the rock, but it is less intimidating than climbing, especially at first. Most climbing gyms have a separate area dedicating solely to bouldering, and it is an easier investment upfront because you do not need a harness; just shoes and chalk and you will be good to go.
What is your favorite way to get outside in the winter?
Are any of your favorite activities included on this list?