With cold weather and short, dark days, winter requires some extra planning when it comes to staying active. But you need not spend sweater season on the couch with Netflix. Schedule these activities with your loved ones to get some fresh air, increase your step count, ward off winter weight gain, and boost your mood.
Nothing beats the thrill of sledding down the largest hill you can find in your neighborhood then running right back up for another round. “Sledding is a great cardio workout, plus you’ll have the resistance of climbing the hill to help strengthen your muscles,” says Tami Smith, a certified personal trainer. It’s a built-in workout that gets your heart beating and makes for the perfect candid photos with your loved ones — win-win!
Make the most of a snow day by building a snowman and snow fort with loved ones. If you’ve got willing participants, you could also surprise them with a friendly snowball fight. “It’s a fun way to get a workout that feels like play,” says Jordan Hosbein, a certified personal trainer. “You’ll hone your reflexes and work all of your muscles as you dodge snowballs.”
Why not turn a snowy vacation into a workout? Skiing and snowboarding are total-body workouts that can torch upwards of 300 calories in an hour, and most ski resorts offer lessons if you’re a newbie, says Hosbein. Research shows hitting the slopes — even once! — can boost your mood, a big plus when you’re up against the winter blues. On flatlands? Consider cross-country skiing to get quality cardio while sightseeing.
Ice skating is another winter activity that engages your entire body as your arms, core and legs work together to keep you upright and gliding, says Smith. It could make for a romantic date, active get-together with friends, or an exciting new skill to teach the kids — with hot cocoa as a reward, of course. You might fall a few times or struggle to find the right fit in rental skates, but the cardio workout and shared memories are always worth the wobbly ankles.
Just 30 minutes of walking can help you burn 150 calories — and that adds up when you’re trying to shed pounds or maintain your weight. To push through chilly weather, make winter walks special. Schedule in hiking trails with breathtaking views, a winter wonderland walking tour, or even snowshoeing through the pines. “Before you know it, you’ll have racked up some serious steps, all while enjoying the company of others and taking in the winter scenery and atmosphere,” says Smith.
“Winter is often the time of year that we get sedentary and put our health and fitness goals on the back burner,” says Smith. “However, when you get creative and stop focusing on just the calorie burn or workout factor, you realize that there are so many simple activities you can do that will help you reach your goals.” All of the above can help you and your loved ones stay active and have fun this winter, no matter the weather.