Shorter days, less sunlight, and cold temperatures make curling up under a blanket with a book or binging a TV show seem extra appealing. Staying physically active, though, is not only good for your health, but it also helps fight winter fatigue.
Once you get up and going, you might be surprised how good it feels to move around. And getting some exercise doesn’t have to be tedious. Consider dusting off those ice skates or trying a new winter sport to be adventurous.
Always consult your doctor and follow medical advice before starting any new physical activity or workout routine. If you need ideas, try these indoor and outdoor workout options to ward off a winter energy slump.
Skiing is a great all-body workout that lets you enjoy fresh air outdoors. Downhill and cross-country skiing both have multiple health benefits, physical therapist Scott Tremmel tells the Cleveland Clinic.
Downhill skiing strengthens bones and joints, including your knees, hips, and back. The weight-bearing exercise also strengthens your leg bones. It also enhances your ability to keep track of your limbs, engages your core, and improves your balance.
Cross-country skiing works multiple large muscle groups in your upper arms, core, and legs. It also strengthens your heart and burns calories. Tremmel said that a 190-pound person burns around 700 calories in an hour of cross-country skiing.
Snowshoeing is a popular winter sport. About 3.6 million people went snowshoeing in the U.S. in the 2019-2020 winter season, according to the Cross Country Ski Areas Association. This activity is fun for all ages and gives families an excellent opportunity to see some incredible winter scenery and enjoy the outdoors on snowshoe trails across the country.
Snowshoeing provides many physical benefits, including improving mobility and range of motion for your lower limbs, according to a biomechanics study. This rigorous form of walking in the snow also gives you a cardiovascular workout, strengthening your heart.
Ice Skating and Hockey
You don’t have to be an Olympic or pro athlete to enjoy ice skating or playing hockey. Gliding around the ice at a local rink or safe frozen lake or pond is terrific exercise. Like skiing, skating helps improve your balance and coordination. It’s a fun way to burn calories. A 155-lb. person burns about 252 calories ice skating for 30 minutes, according to Harvard Health.
Ice is slippery. So, take extra care to help prevent falling when you skate. Also, follow any medical guidance or restrictions before you skate.
Brisk walking (a pace between 80 and 100 steps per minute) for about 30 minutes per day reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, dementia, and death, compared to walking a similar amount of steps at a slower pace, according to a paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine journal.
The nice thing about walking is that you can do it outdoors in your neighborhood, indoors at home, or at a local mall or fitness center. Plus, walking with friends or family members helps you maintain social connections, which boosts your mood and helps fight the winter blues.
Many fitness centers have indoor swimming pools that are open year-round. Swimming is another fun activity for all ages with many benefits. It is an excellent form of cardio exercise that also strengthens your shoulders, hips, and knees without taxing your joints, according to Mayo Clinic Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Matthew Crowe.
When the cold winds blow, you can crank up your favorite tunes and dance away that winter fatigue indoors. You don’t have to worry about form and technique, either. Just shake, shimmy, and move your body to get your heart pumping and your muscles working.
Dancing builds strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance, according to Psychology Today. It also boosts your mood, can make you happy, and enhances your memory, orientation, and concentration.
Yoga is another activity you can do indoors, regardless of the weather. Yoga has multiple benefits, including soothing tension and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and improving balance, according to Harvard Health. You can do yoga at home or join a class to connect with others.
Online or Video Workouts
You can do an online or video workout that targets specific muscle groups and provides a “follow-along” structure. To find one you like, do a Google search for “best online fitness programs.” You can also check out Forbes Health’s “Best Online Workout Programs of 2023” for some good options.
Overall, staying physically active during the winter has many physical benefits and can also boost your mood to combat seasonal fatigue.