Staying physically active when it’s cold outside can be a challenge. During the warmer months, it’s easy and enjoyable to spend all day doing fun activities. The winter months are harder, because the temperatures tend to keep us stuck indoors and limit what we can do. It can be very tempting to succumb to the cozy laziness that winter invites and lay on the couch all day during your free time.
But just because it’s cold out does not mean you need to take a break from regular physical activity. There are still plenty of ways that you can remain active during the long days of winter that don’t involve spending time outside in the cold. Here are 10 ways you can be more active during the colder months!
1. Create a Mini Home Gym
If joining a gym is out of your budget, creating a mini home gym can be a fun way to maintain regular exercise. Dedicate a little area of your home, such as a spare bedroom, the basement, or even just a corner of the living room. You can find cheap workout equipment online through neighborhood message boards — look for things like free weights, resistance bands, jump ropes, or even an exercise bike.
Creating a little workout space for yourself can be a motivating way to exercise everyday, because it’s all right there!
2. Do the Chores
Staying active in your home doesn’t have to mean doing a dedicated workout every single day. Household chores can get your heart pumping, too. Make a schedule for vacuuming, sweeping, laundry, or whatever else needs to be done and stick to it. An hour or two of cleaning is movement around the house that keeps you active.
Don’t forget about outdoor chores, too. Shoveling snow is an excellent workout that utilizes both your upper and lower body. You’ll get points for helping out around the house while you burn calories at the same time. That’s a win-win.
3. Walk at the Mall
If it’s too cold to take a walk around your neighborhood, consider going to a local indoor mall instead. Many places have begun offering early morning programs for exercise, allowing people to walk or jog without the crowds of shoppers around. This can be a unique way to get your steps in without facing the ice and snow outside. After your workout, you can hit some shops or the food court. Sounds like a great way to spend a cold winter day.
If you’re okay briefly braving the cold, a good precursor to your walk at the mall could be biking to the mall instead of driving! Rely on a battery-powered bicycle to get you through the cold as fast as possible. Plus, as you peddle, you’ll beat the cold and warm right up!
4. Take the Stairs
One of the easiest ways to sneak some exercise into your daily routine is by opting for the stairs instead of the elevator. Walking up a couple of flights will get your heart pumping, but won’t cause you to break out into a full-on sweat. If most of your day is spent in an office or at home during the winter months, taking the stairs is a small way you can be more active.
5. Community Indoor Sports
Many community recreation centers offer free or discounted indoor sports during the winter months. Grab a friend and sign up to play some basketball, volleyball, soccer, or racquetball. Even if you’re not a big athlete, playing a pick up game with friends is a fun way to let off some steam when you’re cooped up all day during winter. And who knows — maybe you’ll realize that you’ve had latent athletic ability all along!
6. Keep a Healthy Routine
If you’re wondering why the couch seems way more tempting during winter months or why you lack energy, there is a scientific explanation behind it. As the days become shorter, there is a lot less sunlight. In response to the lack of sunlight, our bodies begin producing more melatonin, which is the hormone that tells our brain when it’s time to go to sleep.
To combat feeling lethargic when it’s cold and dark outside, focus on maintaining a healthy routine. This means eating a well-balanced diet (follow a clean eating blog for inspiration) and sticking to a regular sleep schedule. Both of these things will provide you with more energy, which will make staying active during the colder months much easier.
7. Play Winter Sports
You don’t need to become a total hermit from fall until spring. There are lots of outdoor winter specific sports that can be played, and you may find that you enjoy some of them a lot. Find the closest place to ski or snowboard, or go sledding down a local hill after a big blizzard. You can find outdoor ice skating rings pretty much anywhere, or you can even create one in your backyard! Embrace the ice and snow, instead of hiding from it on your couch.
8. Go Swimming
Swimming is associated with summer, but you can actually do it all year round! Find an indoor swimming pool and start doing some laps. Swimming is one of the best, low-impact physical activities you can do and is great for improving your cardiovascular health. Plus, what better way to combat the winter blues than diving into a nice warm pool? You’ll feel physically and emotionally better afterwards.
9. Exercise When It’s Light Out
A lot of people find it difficult to be productive when it’s dark all the time. Waking up when it’s still pitch black out, and going to the gym is not easy. Additionally, coming home from work when it’s already dark and going straight to the gym is the same. The darkness can make you feel a lot more sluggish than usual.
Instead, try working out during the middle of the day, or on your lunch break. You will be much more awake when it’s light out, allowing you to easily complete physical activities.
10. Find a Group
The winter months are tough on most people. If you’re feeling less motivated during this time, don’t forget that you are not alone. Reach out to friends or join a weekly exercise group. There are plenty of free, online communities where you can talk to people about winter activities, exchange ideas, and support one another. It’s always easier to get active with other people than on your own.
It’s annoying that this is true, but regular exercise really does make you feel better overall. When it’s cold and dark outside, you’re more likely to feel tired and unmotivated. The best way to take care of yourself when that happens is to just keep moving. As we pointed out, it doesn’t matter what kind of physical activity takes place. As long as you get your heart pumping for a little bit each day, you’re bound to feel a lot better during the winter months!