8 Winter Workout Ideas

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When the temperatures are cold and daylight is in short supply, it can be hard to motivate yourself to exercise–indoors or out. But with the right gear, there’s no excuse to hibernate all winter. In fact, you might even enjoy it! Whenever possible, try to head outdoors at midday to take advantage of the warmest temperatures and get a dose of sunshine. And for those days when the weather really is too inhospitable to venture out, this list includes a couple of indoor exercise ideas as well.

Note: The following estimates for calories burned are based on 60 minutes of activity for a 155-pound person.

1. Ice Skating

You don’t have to be an Olympic-caliber figure skater to enjoying skating a few laps around a rink or frozen pond. Enjoy ice skating outdoors in the winter or indoors year-round. Once you’ve mastered skating basics, consider joining a local hockey team for a workout that’s fun and competitive.

Know Before You Go:

  • Skating gives your leg muscles–especially your quads and glutes–a workout, thanks to the motion of pushing off onto each foot.
  • Learning to stand confidently on skates will improve your balance and strengthen the proprioceptor muscles in your ankles that help your stability.

Calories Burned: You can burn up to 520 calories if you keep moving around the rink at a moderate pace for an hour.

2. Snowshoeing

If you can walk, you can snowshoe! This low-impact, family-friendly activity is suitable for nearly everyone, from kids to grandparents. Snowshoe on designated trails or anywhere there’s snow.

Know Before You Go:

  • Besides some warm clothes (dress in layers that you can shed or add as needed), you’ll need waterproof hiking boots, snowshoes, and poles.
  • Bring water to keep hydrated if you plan on being outside for more than an hour.

Calories Burned: Using poles not only helps your balance and takes some strain off your knees, but also increases your calorie expenditure. Expect to burn about 600 calories an hour–more if you go up and down a lot of hills.

3. Downhill Skiing/Snowboarding

Whether you’re just learning to navigate the bunny slope or are already cruising down black diamond runs, skiing and snowboarding workouts feel like pure fun.

Know Before You Go:

  • These sports are expensive. They require a lot of gear (including pricey skis or snowboards, boots, ski poles, a helmet, and goggles) and lift tickets at some resorts cost up to $100 a day.
  • Lessons are a worthwhile investment for beginners or anyone looking to boost skills to the next level.

Calories Burned: You’ll burn about 500 calories an hour (for the downhill part–not the lift rides back up!).

4. Cross-Country Skiing

This sport requires less gear than downhill skiing (and rental equipment can be inexpensive), and trail passes cost a fraction of a ski pass. Cross-country ski slowly on flat, easy terrain for a leisurely workout or speed up and climb hills for a more rigorous workout.

Know Before You Go:

  • You can cross-country ski on specially groomed trails found at Nordic ski centers or on any snowy hiking trail. For information on trails around the country, check out www.xcski.org.
  • Bring an extra layer in case the weather changes and some water if you plan to be out for more than an hour.

Calories Burned: Expect to burn anywhere from 500 to 640 calories per hour, depending on your pace and terrain.

5. Running

Many people give up running outdoors in the winter, but with a few precautions, you can still safely hit the streets instead of the treadmill.

Know Before You Go:

  • If you run in the morning or late afternoon/evening when it’s dark, wear reflective clothing. Many companies make running jackets, tights, and even shoes that help keep you visible to oncoming cars.
  • When conditions are snowy or icy, add extra traction to your running shoes. Many runners swear by hex screws (available at any hardware store) screwed strategically into the grooves on the soles of your sneakers. You can also try slip-ons, like YakTrax, that add traction over your sneakers.
  • Don’t overdress. The general rule of thumb: Dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer. You’ll be chilly starting out, but will warm up quickly.

Calories Burned: You’ll burn 744 calories per hour running a 10-minute mile.

6. Indoor Rock Climbing

If you’re looking for a winter workout that allows you to be indoors, a rock climbing gym is a great choice. And since you’ll most often climb with a partner, it’s a social way to work out.

Know Before You Go:

  • Climbing can be a full-body workout, building strength in your upper body, core and legs, while improving flexibility and enhancing balance.
  • Learn and practice skills you can use to climb outdoors once the weather warms up.

Calories Burned: Rock climbing is tougher than it looks! You can blast up to 800 calories during an hour-long session (ascending, not counting rappelling and breaks).

7. Pool Workouts

Getting in the water may not sound like a good idea in the winter, but most indoor pools are heated to a comfortable temperature year-round. And even if it seems cool at first, you’ll warm up once you start moving.

Know Before You Go:

  • Swimming, deep water running, and water aerobics are all low-impact activities that give you a great cardio workout without jolting your joints.
  • Working against the resistance of the water makes any workout you do in the pool more difficult, which means you get a strength workout at the same time.

Calories Burned: You’ll burn about 300 calories per hour in a typical water aerobics class, and about 500 calories for 60 minutes of swimming.

8. Hot Yoga

Freezing out? Hot yoga could be just the thing to inspire you to get moving. Bikram is a style of yoga in which the room is heated to 105 degrees while you move through a specific series of 26 postures. But many studios offer a variety of yoga under the catchphrase of “hot yoga.” The one unifying element is that you can expect to be in a room hot enough to make you sweat profusely.

Know Before You Go:

  • Be sure to hydrate properly before, during, and after a hot yoga class.
  • Change into dry clothes before you head out into the cold.

Calories Burned: Estimates range widely, but you can expect to burn anywhere from 500 to 1,000 calories, depending on your level of exertion.

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The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. The One Medical Group entities and 1Life Healthcare, Inc. make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.