How to Work Out in the Winter

By: Angelee Chen

There’s a reason why many creatures on Earth decide to hide away in their little, cozy hideouts for the duration of the frigid season we know as winter – the world seems kind of dead. Nature becomes quiet and unproductive, there’s less time for daylight, and it’s simply freezing cold! As such, it is understandable why we humans may want to just lie in bed all day while bundled up under as many blankets as we have. Even if we do find the motivation to brave the cold, it is quite uncomfortable for most. Your muscles get tense, you can’t feel your fingers, your nose starts to run – it’s a whole laundry list of negative (and even dangerous) sensations.

However, our species and way of living as a modern society have evolved far beyond needing or even allowing space for a dormant period such as hibernation. We have so many resources, abilities, and tools at our disposal to stay on top of our game even when the rest of the land around you is at rest. No matter who you are or what you’re doing, here are some tips and considerations for staying active in the most inactive time of the year.

Find your fitness focus

If you’re reading this post, you likely already have some level of self motivation towards working out (which is great!). Let’s amplify that as much as we can! It’s always a good idea to set your goals, so you know exactly why you are doing what you are doing. Perhaps you are a regular exerciser and want to conquer all of the seasons throughout the year. Or maybe you just decided you want to exercise more regularly, and the cold season is simply when you happened to have that motivation.
In addition, are you hoping to accomplish something specific? Would you like to increase your flexibility? Bulk up more muscle mass? Or do you just want general, physical maintenance so everything stays working as they should? Write your goals down, use an app, or whatever you know will remind and motivate yourself regularly.

Set the scene

So you know what your goal is. Now you’ve got to figure out where the action will take place. Do you have a desire to be one with the elements? Or would you prefer the comfort and safety of the indoors? Everyone has different comfort levels with their sense of security and health, the weather can be dangerous, and not everyone is physically capable of doing the same things. So, let’s run through some ideas for possible scenarios.

  1. Home sweet home – If you’re like me and prefer to have the least amount of preparation or relocation involved, following an online workout video might be your best match. Even if you have zero equipment, you can follow along to something as peaceful as a guided yoga session or as energetic as a dance workout. I often like to invite my friends through
    a Zoom or Discord meeting so we can do the same workout despite being in separate locations.
  2. Teamwork makes the dream work – Does your community organize fitness events such as group walks or runs? Are there recreation centers that offer a variety of sports activities that may interest you? Or, are there simply gyms to which you can go for a traditional workout experience? Sometimes, being around other people who are doing the same or similar activities can help facilitate your own experience. Just remember to practice social distancing and other safety precautions if you take an option that involves other people!
  3. Walking in a winter wonderland – You might’ve had fun memories playing in the snow as a child. As cold as it might’ve been, activities like sledding, snowshoeing, skiing, or even just frolicking around in the snow surely built up a sweat! Weather permitting, bring the whole family or Invite some friends to make it a fun activity for everyone. Having a blast while also burning several hundred calories (depending on the intensity) sounds like a pretty good deal!

Safety precautions

While you might already know that you need to stretch, warm-up, and stay hydrated for any workout, heading outdoors in the wintertime calls for extra things to prepare for and be mindful of. If you do decide to be outdoors for any form of winter workout, take these tips into consideration.

  1. Dress for the weather – Check the weather forecast as a guideline, and be prepared with moisture-wicking layers that you can easily put on and remove. In the winter, it’s a constant battle of not letting yourself overheat and produce sweat (that can cool you down too fast) nor exposing too much to the wind chill. Your extremities (head, hands, and feet) will lose or struggle to maintain heat the most, so make sure to take extra care of those guys! The goal is to avoid hypothermia and frostbite.
  2. Do not neglect your sunscreen – It is not only a thing for the summer sun! The winter sun can be even more brutal with all of the white snow and ice around reflecting the UV rays.
  3. Stay visible – If you happen to be caught outside as the already-short daylight is fading, make sure you have some form of bright, reflectiveness to your attire in order to allow drivers and other potentially dangerous entities to see where you are.
  4. Tell a friend – It is always a safe practice to let someone you trust know where you are whenever you head out of the house, but especially so when you might be out in unpredictable winter conditions. Let them know how long you plan to be out for or what your route looks like (if, for example, you wanted to go for a run).
  5. Talk to your doctor – The world outside isn’t welcoming for everyone in the winter. Especially if you have pre-existing health conditions, make sure to get professional medical advice on whether or not an outdoor workout is possible in the first place.
    You’ve got this!

You can become a winter warrior in the outdoors. You can also carry on indoors as if the season isn’t even a hindrance. No matter which approach you take, be proud of the fact that you are staring down winter’s deadly glare and still choosing to stay active, healthy, and strong.

Angelee graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Ithaca College. She is a free-spirited creative who believes that we cannot nurture a happier, healthier world without happier, healthier people. Through her work, she aims to share her experiences to connect with and empower as many people as she can. In her free time, she enjoys arts & crafts, singing and dancing to music, and both creating and eating delicious meals.

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