The great outdoors isn’t always so great. In fact, during winter, it’s just plain cold. And maybe icy. And slushy. And snowy. However, for those who prefer to break a sweat on the pavement rather than on the treadmill, there’s no need to retreat indoors for exercise. With a little creativity and the proper dress, you can workout outside just as you would any other time of year.
When it comes to clothing, wear moisture-wicking layers. As you adjust to outdoor winter exercise, you’ll gain an understanding for just how many layers your body needs to stay warm, but not overheated. Always properly protect extremities like your nose, ears and fingers. And if going outside early in the morning, later in the afternoon or evening, accessorize with something reflective, stick to well-lit areas and watch out for drivers.
Now perfectly outfitted in your winter workout get-up, give the following activities a go because no one wants to be cooped up indoors all winter long.
Walk or run
There’s nothing quite like a winter walk or run to refresh your mind and body. Invest in a pair of ice or snow grips to access otherwise frustrating walking or running spots. If you’re not ready to commit, it may take a couple of outings before you discover clear and safe routes. Asthmatic? Be sure to pack your puffer—the cold air can prove problematic. A warm-up before and cool down after a walk and especially a run are essential in wintertime. Start with some dynamic stretches and end with sustained stretches (as well as a lighter paced jog for a run).
Grab a ball
As long as the courts are clear and unlocked, there’s no reason you can’t play tennis or basketball during the winter months. They’ll certainly be clear of other humans! Source out willing teammates and you could start a new tradition. For something simpler (and with less rules), try a game of catch as an active way to catch up with a friend.
Hit the ice
Whether indoors or outdoors, skating is one of the most affordable and accessible winter sports. You don’t even need a pair of skates—public rinks often offer rentals, but do check in advance. If you’re a newbie and skating at a busy rink, bring along a helmet as well and maybe a buddy to lean on and keep you upright. (Although falling is certainly allowed.)
Discover a winter sport
Why not try a sport available only a few months a year? If you have the means (and snow) to, make a day of downhill or cross-country skiing. Check out your local curling club for a game of logic and hip opening. (Those low lunges, right?) Although no bobsled, tobogganing is the ideal winter activity for any thrill-seeker. If you’re the more cautious type, snowshoeing is both hilarious and surprisingly strenuous.
While not an official sport, shovelling snow is both helpful, burns calories and strengthens your core and shoulders (particularly if you’ve had a heavy snowfall). Be sure to keep your knees bent and engage your core to save your lower back from suffering. Likewise keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears when dumping shovelfuls overhead.