It may be cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you have to quit enjoying the great outdoors — or exercise in general.
There’s no need to hibernate like a bear. If you do, you’ll end up packing on the pounds. And, you’ll be grouchy by the time spring rolls around due to weight gain and lethargy.
Plus, research shows exercise reduces inflammation while also improving mood and stress levels. Try as you might, you can’t argue with science that staying in bed instead of exercising is better for your health.
Here are five easy winter exercise ideas:
1. Take the Stairs
It sounds so easy, right? If you find yourself much less active in the winter, taking the stairs is a simple way to torch calories. You don’t even have to go outside to do it! Anytime you find yourself in a multi-level building, skip the elevator and head straight for the built-in StairMaster.
Get started: If your workplace has elevators, take the stairs as much as you can. Set a morning reminder on your phone that alerts you while pulling into work.2. Make Your Own Gym
You don’t need an expensive gym membership to stay in shape. You also don’t need a ton of room at home, either. Simple workouts like marching, pushups, jumping jacks and sit-ups require no equipment. Add in light weights or resistance bands for strength training.
Get started: Need some structure? Try an exercise DVD or free YouTube fitness videos.3. Have Fun with Tedious Chores
Winter leaves plenty of windows of opportunity to do physical chores like chopping firewood, shoveling snow, cleaning chimneys...the list goes on. Add an extra burn by doing squats or lunges instead of taking a rest break.
Get started: Consider making a game out of shoveling snow. Race your family members to see who can clear their path the fastest.4. Workout Outside
Don’t try working out if there’s a blizzard, obviously. If it’s lightly snowing out, bundle up and head outside. If you’ve got kids, making snow angels or snowmen is a great way to bond as a family while burning calories. Prefer to enjoy nature alone? Snowshoeing allows you to walk at your own pace while taking in the sights of a winter wonderland. More active folks may want to hit the slopes a little harder, though. Snowboarding and skiing top the list of outdoor snow day activities for everyday athletes.
Get started: Shop for new gear or equipment to get you excited about your new exercise plan. For challenging winter sports, sign up to meet with an instructor for lessons. It will give you something to look forward to as winter progresses.5. Join a Sports Team
Even if getting active outside isn’t your cup of tea, indoor activities can keep you just as fit. Ask a friend, neighbor, or coworker to join you in your pursuit to keep off winter pounds. Roller derby, flag football, and basketball are all indoor sports that can be played in the winter months.
Get started: Check out your local rec center or visit a site like Meetup.com to find a team near you.
Winter Exercise Keeps You Healthier
With the dreary days and cold temps, it’s easy to stay inside under the covers. But by staying active during winter, it keeps your immune system strong and staves off pains from extended sedentary behavior. Plus, with all the holiday treats around this time of year, you’ll stay trim and burn the calories before the food even hits your lips.
One important reminder for outdoor activities: Bundle up. Add the proper amount of layers to peel off as you get warmer while working out. Protect your fingers, toes, and ears from frostbite with the right gear. Additionally, if hitting the slopes, bring chapstick and sunscreen to keep chapped and dry skin away.
Whether you’re sledding or shoveling snow, these winter exercise ideas will keep you looking more like a Rockette and less like jolly Saint Nick.
What are your favorite ways to stay active in winter? Share in the comments below!