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These 7 Outdoor Activities Will Give You a Real Winter Workout

Two women running with a Golden Doodle and a Golden Retriever in Winter.
Lopolo/Shutterstock

Winter creates an ideal atmosphere to undertake new fitness challenges. As many of us are still social distancing, getting our exercise outdoors is the best way to keep it safe. These seven outdoor activities are not only enjoyable, but they’ll help you get that workout in, too.

Hiking

Hiking in winter is a whole new experience. From the gear and layered clothing to knowing what to do in certain weather conditions, the challenge is real!

Still, for those who enjoy it, it’s one of the best ways to stay in shape while enjoying those beautiful winter landscapes. The fresh crisp air and wonderful moments of solitude and peace are the ideal way to unplug from the busyness and stress of daily life.

Before you embark on your journey, there are many things you should familiarize yourself with first when it comes to winter hiking. From online resources and books to training programs and classes., there are plenty of resources to help you stay safe.

Running

Another fitness activity that gets completely transformed in winter is running. Those who’ve been doing it for a while know all the caveats and necessary equipment. Running with the least amount of additional weight possible is still the goal.

That’s why many running brands are developing high-tech materials to help you withstand colder temperatures and unfavorable weather conditions, while keeping you light on your feet.

If you’re new to winter running, it’s important to do some research before you head out, as there are some pieces of clothing or equipment you probably don’t even know you need.

Skiing and Snowboarding

A snowboarder coming down a snow-covered hillside.
Dmytro Vietrov/Shutterstock

Winter sports lovers will be pleased to know that skiing and snowboarding remain safe outdoor fitness activities, even during a pandemic. You will, of course, have to check and see which ski resorts have gotten the green light to resume regular operations.

Most resorts also offer classes for beginners, whether you want to try skiing or snowboarding. If you want to get a head start, there are also plenty of resources online, including the video below for first-time snowboarders.

Be sure to stay up to date if you ski locally so you’ll know the current safety requirements in place—you should be able to check the property’s website for the latest information.

Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is a winter version of hiking. It’s also a very popular winter fitness activity in the United States that requires special footwear and additional gear that makes it easier to trek through large amounts of snow. You can also safely snowshoe and social distance. So, if you’re down for a killer leg workout that’ll leave you sore for days, this is the winter workout for you.

If you want to try it, there are some important things you need to educate yourself about first. There are various guides out there, but we like this one from REI. It contains everything you need to know about snowshoeing.

Ice Skating

Although those who enjoy it know how fun and challenging ice skating is, it might be a bit difficult to find an ice rink that’s open in some areas. If you have a local rink, check and see—some might be open with safety measures in place.

If you’ve never tried it, you might discover that you absolutely love gliding over that ice like you’re in the Olympics. Like skiing and snowboarding, most rinks offer classes for beginners, so be sure to check the website—there might be a schedule of classes online.

Most rinks allow you to rent skates, but if you discover you love it, you can get your own pair relatively inexpensively.

American Athletic Shoe Women's Tricot Lined Ice Skates, White, 8 (52208)

These best-sellers will help you pursue those figure-skating dreams.

An Outdoor Functional Workout

Who says functional workouts can only be done indoors? As long as you layer up in waterproof, warm athleisure with a good pair of winter sneakers, gloves, and a hat, you’ll be ready for anything!

From burpees to push-ups, if you want to challenge yourself even more, doing any exercise in the snow will do the trick. Simply taking it outside in the winter can turn your regular workout into one of the best fitness activities you’ve ever done.

No gym, no problem!

Walking

A man, woman, and Golden Retriever walking in the snow.
chaoss/Shutterstock

Sure, many folks go to the mall to get their power walking in during the colder months, but why do that?

It might not be as physically demanding as the rest of the activities on our list, but walking is still one of the best ways to elevate your heart rate. It’s also an easy way to get active, even on the coldest of days. Walking is also considered a safe activity for almost every age group.

You can always modify the intensity and the briskness of your walk however you please. You’ll also want to make sure you have a good pair of winter walking shoes or booties that will keep your feet dry, without adding too much weight.

Walking is also a nice way to get some fresh air and do some local sightseeing. So, dress warm and walk to your favorite coffee shop instead of hitting the drive-thru.


Winter weather can pose some challenges to maintaining a regular workout routine. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t change it up. Try something new or modify your workout by layering up and taking it outside.

Too nasty to go outside? You can always do some yoga right in your living room.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »

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