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Fitness

5 Outdoor Workout Ideas To Brave This Winter

5 Mins read

The colder weather is upon us, but you can’t use the cold as an excuse to stay home. It’s time to get creative with some cold-weather outdoor workout ideas, instead of hibernating all winter. 

It’s easy to use the cold as an excuse to stay cozy on your couch, but you need to be physically active all year to stay healthy. You’ve likely heard the expression, Sitting is the new smoking,  as being too sedentary is extremely bad for your health. Unfortunately, many people become very sedentary in the winter.

Many people also don’t get enough fresh air in the winter, because they stay home too much. When thinking of outdoor workout ideas for the colder seasons, remind yourself that fresh air is good for you, and choose a fun activity like ice skating, for example. Exercise should be fun because if you don’t enjoy it, you’ll probably never do it. 

Not only is getting outside for a workout good for you but immersing yourself in nature is also important for your mental health. A study from the Journal of Environmental Psychology, for example, explained that there are several positive effects from being outdoors and among nature. The perks include a happier mood, increased vitality, decreased stress, and more energy. An outdoor workout in nature provides you with the endorphins from exercise and the positive effects of being in nature, so it’s a great way to combat the winter blues.

You can layer up and wear gloves and a toque, so don’t let the cold stop you. Even if it’s cold outside, the outdoors is generally a much more pleasant environment than the gym, so it’s likely you’ll enjoy your workout more if it’s outdoors.

Your body also burns more calories when you exercise in the cold, outdoors. Since your body has to work harder to keep you warm when it’s cold outside. 

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1. Ice Skating

Ice skating burns a lot of calories, and it’s also a ton of fun. Ice skating doesn’t feel like work, and that makes it one of the best outdoor workout ideas. Your community likely has outdoor skating rinks that play fun music for the ice skaters to enjoy. You might even have a beautiful frozen lake nearby that’s been declared safe to skate on. 

When you ice skate, you use your glutes and legs to push off one foot after the other. You also engage your core muscles when you skate, because you need to maintain an upright position to avoid falling. Since ice skating involves balance and the use of stabilizer muscles, you’ll be using your core muscles the entire time. This means you’re toning and shaping your legs and glutes while you strengthen your core, burn calories and have a blast.

If you’re not a confident ice skater, why not start off by taking some ice skating lessons? The more you practice, the better you’ll become at ice skating, and then you can skate faster and burn more calories. Just be sure to wear a warm hat, gloves, scarf and coat when you go ice skating.

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2. Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is one of the best outdoor workout ideas in the winter. Not only does snowshoeing require a lot of strength and burn lots of calories, but snowshoeing trails also tend to be in beautiful nature settings. You’ll be surrounded by beautiful snow-capped trees while getting a great workout. 

The snow adds the resistance that makes snowshoeing an effective workout. Your wide stance snowshoeing combined with the resistance of the snow means this exercise works your quads, hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors. The average snowshoer burns about 500 calories per hour while enjoying picturesque scenery outdoors.

3. Scenic Hikes

Similar to snowshoeing, many parts of the world have hiking trails that are a challenging workout, just without the snowy terrain. Plenty of hiking trails stay open all year round. All you have to do is dress for the weather, not that you’ll be cold if you’re staying warm by hiking.

The rough terrain and uphill battle during a hike is a fantastic outdoor workout. Anything that involves hiking uphill is also a great way to tone and shape your glutes and legs. You’ll feel amazing being outside in the fresh air, among nature. You won’t feel cold while hiking because you’ll be working up a sweat, but you should still pack warm clothes if you plan on stopping at a viewpoint.

One of the best parts of hiking is that there’s often a stunning, scenic viewpoint you get as a reward for your climb. You’ll get to enjoy a beautiful view at the top, and if you pack warm clothes, you won’t be too cold while you enjoy it.

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4. Cross-Country Skiing

Many people don’t know that cross-country skiing is one of the outdoor workout ideas that burn the most calories. It looks easy, but cross-country skiing is a challenging workout because you need plenty of muscular strength to push yourself forward with each step. You’re using your leg muscles, glutes, and especially your outer thighs. 

Because cross-country skiers use poles to help them propel forward on the ski path, they’re also engaging their triceps, biceps, upper back and shoulders. Furthermore, since the movement of cross-country skiing requires you to move one leg forward with the opposite pole, you’re also working your obliques and core with this constant twisting motion.

People love cross-country skiing because it’s safer than downhill skiing, great for beginners, and it’s a better workout than downhill skiing.

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5. Outdoor Bootcamp

If you want to get a full-body workout this winter, sign up for an outdoor bootcamp class. The classes typically meet 3 times per week, always promising a full-body workout, and it’s typically a “Rain or shine, snow or sun” situation. This means most bootcamps don’t cancel their class no matter what the weather forecast is.

Everyone in the bootcamp class braves the cold weather together, even if it’s raining or snowing. All you have to do is dress appropriately. If you’re not sure how to dress, go to your local outdoor equipment store and ask for advice on what to wear for cold-weather workouts. 

Outdoor bootcamps work the full body because they typically do circuit training where each circuit works a different part of the body. They also tend to start the class off with 30 minutes of cardio, in the form of running or outdoor stair drills. 

Want to Find Out the Optimal Exercise Program for You?

If you’d like to find out the optimal training program for you, based on your genetic strengths and weaknesses, you’ll love the fitness reports from CircleDNA. Simply take an easy at-home DNA test, and CircleDNA will provide you with 500 reports about yourself, including fitness reports that explain the types of exercise that suit you best. You’ll find out if you’re more likely to have high or low cardiovascular endurance, high or low strength, and high or low power. This helps you determine what you need to work harder at to make up for genetic shortcomings, and this information also helps by detailing the best sports and workouts for you.

Erica Gordon
148 posts

About author
Erica Gordon is the Managing Editor and Director of Content at Circle Magazine. Erica majored in Psychology at UBC and has since founded The Babe Report and followed her passion for writing and journalism, with a focus on health and travel writing.
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