5 Outdoor Winter Workouts You’ll Actually Like

5 Winter Workouts You'll Love

Baby, it’s cold outside. Which is probably why you’d rather reach for a cozy blanket than your running shoes. Let’s face it, whether you have a gym membership or not, stepping out in the cold air for a workout isn’t at the top of everyone’s list this winter.

However, most wintertime exercises torch way more calories than your regular sweat session on the treadmill, while the combination of physical exercise and sunlight exposure is known to boost your mood, which is a great quick fix for those winter blues.

Curb your hibernation tendencies, and try out these calorie-burning outdoor winter workouts to stay in shape this season, and maybe even — dare we say? — embrace the cold?

1. Ice Skating

This winter staple is not only a physical activity that the whole family can enjoy, but it also burns major calories. Ice skating is a great cardiovascular activity, and because it requires you to stay balanced at all times, you’re constantly working your glutes, core, and legs.

Kick it up a notch: If you’re not comfortable performing triple axels, try doing interval sprints mixed with leisurely skating for one minute, three times. Rest, and then repeat twice more.

2. Sledding

Yes, believe it or not, your favorite childhood winter activity is actually a decent form of exercise. Sledding down hillside won’t burn many calories, but you’re working your core and balance by staying upright. The real workout comes in when you’re making the trek up the hill, which is working your glutes and hamstrings.

Kick it up a notch: While walking up the hill, try walking up sideways, backwards, and forwards. You’ll be working your muscles at different angles, which will increase strength and the burn. Once at the top, do 10 squats. Repeat.

3. Cross-Country Skiing

For a low-impact, overall body workout that burns fat and builds muscles, you’ll definitely want to check out cross-country skiing. From top to bottom, you’re consistently working your shoulders, triceps, core, legs, and glutes, while working up a sweat. And unlike downhill skiing, which includes downtime while waiting in line for the lift, and then sitting on the lift on the way up, you’re constantly moving while cross-country skiing.

Kick it up a notch: Try doing a series of six one-minute intervals in which you’re pushing yourself to 75-90% of your heart rate, followed by six one-minute rests after each set. Not into sprinting? Look for the trail that has the most hills. The inclines will naturally increase your heart rate, while building your endurance.

4. Snowshoeing

It might not be as popular as skiing or skating, but snowshoeing is one heck of a good workout, especially for those who are looking for something more low-impact. Not only is snowshoeing an aerobic activity, but the snowshoes themselves require some serious strength from your legs to prevent you from sinking too deeply into the show. You’ll definitely work your quads, calves, and glutes.

Kick it up a notch: Add a pair poles to work your upper body. You’ll zap even more calories, while strengthening your biceps, triceps, shoulders, and upper back.

5. Running

Running in the winter is one those activities that you either love or hate. However, here’s something to convince you: some studies have shown that running in the winter burns more fat and calories than in warmer temperatures. Though you might not earn a PR (the cold constricts blood vessels faster, which might slug your pace), you will work your core more as you maintain your balance across slippery patches.

Kick it up a notch: Enter a 5k or 10k race. With so many winter races available across the country, running a race is a great way to stay motivated and on track with your winter running training. Plus, you’re more apt to run a faster pace when you’re training, and ultimately running, a race.

The Takeaway

With the right warm gear and the right attitude, exercising outdoors in the wintertime doesn’t have to feel like a punishment. In fact, it can be fun and rewarding. And if that still doesn’t convince you, how about this: working out in the winter will have you ready for swimsuit season a lot faster.

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Brianne Hogan is a Canadian writer, currently based in Prince Edward Island. A self-proclaimed "wellness freak," she has a... More about Brianne Hogan