8 Perfect Winter Workouts
We understood. Sometimes cold weather and gloomy days make us all crave a cozy blanket and our sofa – not so much the gym.
But movement is important year-round (with benefits spanning nearly every aspect of health), especially during the winter months if you’re feeling low on energy or in a low mood (the exercise can be a helpful antidote to the winter blues).
So change up your workout routine to add activities that are ideal for this time of year and that you are looking forward to.
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Or use winter elements to your advantage, says Wisconsin LaLa Duncan, a Certified Pain-Free Performance Specialist and Virtual Strength and Conditioning Trainer for Dogpound Gym. The workouts you do in the snow, for example, force you to strengthen muscles that help stabilize you and increase calorie burn. Walking in snow, for example, takes more effort than walking on dry pavement, she says. “Walking on uneven surfaces is great for engaging your core muscles,” she explains.
Here are eight winter-friendly workouts you look forward to when cold weather arrives.
1. Brisk walk
It’s simple, but it can absolutely lead to big fitness gains, says Evans. Walking works your lower body muscles and has less impact on your joints. It improves cardiovascular fitness and promotes good bone health. Do it in almost any weather by dressing appropriately.
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Why not go further and make it a group activity? Research published in January 2015 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine measured the health benefits of group walking across 42 studies and found evidence that group walking benefited several health measures, from blood pressure and resting heart rate to body fat and heart rate. cholesterol level.
Breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics are best for reducing the cooling effects of body sweat, and be sure to wear gear to cover your head, face and hands, which tend to lose heat quickly. according to the recommendations of report on the exercise in cold weather published in September 2021 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. And don’t forget the shoes. Opt for waterproof snow boots or sneakers (in case of precipitation) with good traction (or grip) to face the elements, such as snow, mud or patches of ice.
Skiing can be an intense workout or a more moderate one, depending on your skill level and the types of runs you do. Downhill and cross-country skiing can improve flexibility, build your core muscles and, of course, exercise your legs.
Research has concluded that downhill skiing increases leg muscle strength, promotes healthy aging, improves musculoskeletal and postural functioning, and supports emotional health, according to a review published in 2018 in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.
Be sure to take steps to avoid cold-induced muscle strain injuries, such as making sure your body is warm before beginning rigorous activity, says Josh Jones, TPD, a physical therapist and orthopedic surgeon based in Breckenridge, Colorado, who works with professional skiers. Experiment with dynamic stretching or a light warm-up to promote sufficient blood circulation for the workout ahead.
Snowboarding has the same physical demands as skiing. But unlike skiing, where your weight is spread over two skis, snowboarding only requires one board.
“It’s a great workout, not only for strengthening your lower body, but also for your core – if you ride with proper technique,” says Daniel Masleya snowboard coach certified by the American Association of Snowboard Instructors and the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association (level 200), based in Windsor, New York.
Don’t discount the mental benefits of snowboarding, either, says Mastey. You’re going to fall sometimes, but he adds, “Getting back on the right foot in snowboarding is also a lesson you can apply in your personal life to improve your mindset and achieve more.
Unleash your inner child with the classic winter activity of sledding. It’s fun and great for people of all ages. “All members of the family can enjoy sledding,” says Duncan.
Along with the fun, you can also reap the cardiovascular and strength benefits, especially if you’re the one carrying the sled up the hill.
5. Ice skating
You don’t need to flip or jump to train on ice skates. Just doing laps around a rink requires balance and coordination, says former nationally-ranked figure skater Anna Brodetsky-Lubischer, a National Association for Fitness Certification personal trainer and co-owner of Lubischer’s Burn and Blast Training Gym in West Long Branch, New Jersey. “Skating also develops two important muscle groups in your body: your legs and your core,” adds Brodetsky-Lubischer. So don’t be surprised if you are in pain the next day!
A study published in December 2018 in the journal Behavioral sciences found that self-reported benefits of regular ice skating included improved motor skills, muscle tone, self-esteem, and other measures of physical and mental health in a group of young adults (although it (interestingly, the report is based on a rather small analysis of responses).
If there is snow on the ground nearby, try making your winter walk a snowshoe hike (snowshoes are a bit like snowshoes that you slip over your shoes or boots to allow you to walk on snow rather than sinking into it). It can also be a great way to explore parks or sport-friendly hiking trails.
Low impact but still guaranteed to get your heart rate up, this winter activity is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. “It’s a great lower-body workout that targets your glutes, calves, hip abductors, quads, hamstrings, and core,” says Duncan. You’ll have to use your core to keep your balance and control your steps (to avoid falling), she says.
If you want to avoid training outdoors, find a nearby boxing gym or call in virtual boxing training. (Several gyms offer live or on-demand classes.) It’s great for relieving stress and improving cardiovascular fitness because it gets your heart rate up, Evans says.
The benefits of boxing are similar to other cardiovascular workouts, with the added bonus that it’s a great upper body workout (unlike other popular cardio choices, like running). and cycling, which require more of the lower body), depending on Harvard Health Publishing.
8. Pilates and yoga
If you notice tight hip flexors or tight hamstrings, it could be because many of us tend to spend more time sitting indoors during the colder months of the year. than when the weather is more hospitable, says Jessica Roberta nationally certified Pilates teacher based in Reno, Nevada.
Practices like Pilates and yoga, which promote strength, mobility and flexibility, can really help counter all that stillness, Roberts says. Gentle movements that involve lots of stretching and lengthening of muscles can be a great cross-training option if you do other high-impact winter sports (like skating, skiing, or snowboarding), adds she. The strengthening components of Pilates and yoga also help prepare your body for the unexpected jolts and twists that can occur with these winter sports.
Plus, both are suitable indoor activities on days when the weather is too inclement for you to want to go outside.