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24 Ways to Get More Exercise in the Winter

Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, LDN

Long, dark nights make it really hard to stay motivated and get regular exercise during the winter. In this article, we’re going to give you all sorts of ideas about how you can burn more calories throughout the season.

If you have a gym membership, that’s great! If you need more home workout ideas, we’ll give you a list of those too. (Plus… a few of these ideas are pretty easy to do!)

Luckily every idea in this post burns calories! In fact, it may be just what you need to go from burning 1 pound per week to 2!

How much exercise do you need?

According to the American Heart Association, adults should meet these exercise recommendations:

  • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week OR 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.
  • 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week for greater weight loss.
  • Resistance or weight exercises at least 2 times per week.
  • All exercise obeys doctor recommendations and gradually increases.
  • Exercise can be split into short segments (even as little as 10-minute increments).
  • Spend less time sitting.
  • Engage in more light physical activity throughout the day.

How to Lose Weight in the Winter

Between the cold weather and holiday party eating, (link to holiday eating blog) losing weight seems harder than ever in the winter!

Let’s look at outdoor exercises for weight loss, indoor calorie burn workouts… and even some ways to burn calories without doing too much work, if at all!

Outdoor Winter Activities for Weight Loss

  • Walk through the snow. Talk about a workout! You don’t even need to run to get your heart pumping.
  • Shovelling. But, make sure you know the proper shovelling techniques to protect your back.
  • Snowball fights and making a snowman. This can be a great activity if the snow is wet and heavy.
  • Ice skating. A full-body workout!
  • Clean out the garage. If it’s chilly, your body will be burning calories to keep you warm… Plus a few hours of moving boxes, reorganizing and cleaning is quite tiring!
  • Rake the leaves. If you need a reason to rake, here it is! This can be both a cardio and arm or chest workout.
  • Play with your kids or dogs. Trying to keep up with crazy kids for 20 minutes is so exhausting! Plus, it can wear them out too.

Indoor Winter Activities for Weight Loss

  • Stationary bike… or your own! At-home workout equipment is convenient. But, if you only have an outdoor bike, use a converter stand that allows you to use your own bike as a stationary one in your living room!
  • Commercial gym and/or indoor pool. The hardest part is likely getting there in the cold.
  • YouTube videos. Here’s a great way to find any at-home workout you could think of. Cardio, weight training, cardio with weights, dance, yoga, stretching, pilates… If you can think of a workout to search on YouTube, you can probably find it!
  • Clean the house. Expecting company? Time to sweep, vacuum, clean and set up the whole house! Put on some music and get to work.
  • Put up or take down decorations. Drag up the Christmas tree, boxes of decorations… and then set it all up! You’ll have to tear it down too, so you can count all that as 2 workouts!
  • Take the stairs over and over again. Taking the stairs at work and in public is a really great calorie burn. However, if you’ve got a 2-story house, walk or jog up and down the stairs 25, 50, 100 times! It can really get your heart pumping.
  • Hand weights or bodyweight workouts. Having dumbbells at home is great, but you can also use heavy canned goods, jugs of sand or your own body weight to do resistance training workouts at home.
  • Walk around the mall or fieldhouse. There aren’t too many places with a ton of space to walk around indoors, but these are great, warm options!
  • Go bowling. Bowling, darts, pool and many other indoor activities are fun, social calorie burners!

Easy Calorie Burn (No Exercise Required)

  • Sleep in a cold room. Turning down the temperature encourages your body to keep you warm. Your body will burn extra calories to maintain your core temperature.
  • Convert to a standup desk. A standing desk apparatus is great, but even stacked books will do. Just stack books under your computer and keyboard.
  • Stretch. Now, you should be stretching before and after every workout. But, if you’re not totally set on a full-blown sweaty workout, get up and do a 30 minute stretch. Even though it’s light activity, it beats being sedentary on the couch.
  • Try weighted vests or ankle weights. This added resistance as you walk around your house (or during exercise) can help build muscle and burn extra calories.
  • Park far away, always. Whether you’re going to work, the store or the doctor, choose to take the farthest spot.
  • Sit on a stability ball. Stability balls force you to balance yourself and engage your core muscles. That all can equate to an easy calorie burn over the course of the year!
  • Go through your wardrobe. We all avoid cleaning out our closets. Between the hauling, trying on, donating and disposing, you can burn a bunch of calories in an afternoon!
  • Cook your meals. Running around the kitchen prepping, cleaning, cooking, slicing, dicing… dancing. All of this equates to a calorie burn! And while you’re at it, learn what to eat to lose weight in the winter. (link to winter eating blog)

A Note on Safety

Before engaging in exercise, especially out in the cold, keep a few things in mind:

  • Check with your doctor about your exercise limitations.
  • Cold temperatures add extra stress to your workout.
  • Risk of hypothermia increases with long-term exposure and getting wet outside.
  • Be aware of ice and slippery surfaces.
  • Wear several layers so you can add or subtract them as your body heats up or cools down.
  • Always warm up before exercising in the cold.
  • In your home, make sure you clear up ample space to exercise.

So now you’ve got 24 ways to burn calories this winter. That’s almost a whole month’s worth of workouts! Get to it!