How can I exercise in the winter?

By using less labor saving devices you can be active during the winter without going to the gym. Use a shovel instead of a snow blower to clear the sidewalk. Chop wood instead of purchasing it from the store.  If weather allows park further away from building when you go to work and you run errands. Use the stairs instead of elevators, do chores around your house instead of having others do it.  By increasing your activity in these small ways you can stay active and fit during the winter months
Consider these calorie-burning indoor activities when it's just too cold to be outside:
  • Walk your local mall.
  • Take the stairs whenever possible.
  • At work, walk around your building's hallways during your lunch or coffee break.
  • Watch and follow an exercise video or DVD rather than a movie.
  • Don't wait for spring for a thorough house cleaning. Wash the inside of your windows, vacuum or shampoo the carpet or clean out your closets.
Cold weather doesn't mean you have to say good-bye to all outdoor activities. Besides, why should kids have all of the fun in the winter? 
  • Build a snowman.
  • Have a snowball fight.
  • Go ice skating.
  • Go sledding.
  • Make snow angels.
Aim for a goal of 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week and you'll be on your way to keeping off winter weight gain.
Sari Greaves
Nutrition & Dietetics
Here are a few suggestions on how to stay active in winter:
  • Make a list of indoor house projects that you have wanted to do and start to tackle them one at a time. Each time you finish one, make sure you check it off, it will give you a sense of accomplishment and help motivate you to complete your list.
  • Avoid keeping the television on for long periods of time. It is easy to want to cozy up on a couch and watch some programs you have not had a chance to see but for now, enough is enough! Allow yourself 1/2 to 1 hour of television after dinner or work and then start out on a project that you wanted to do.
  • If you have to watch television, don't let yourself sit for more than 30 minutes at a time. Get up and get water, go to the bathroom or just start to pace around the room while watching television. Even though it can get monotonous, find a path around your home that you can walk through for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, it may not be exciting, but you are burning calories!
  • Get rid of all the winter storm "comfort" foods -- that is the high calories foods we all love to nibble on during storms -- chips, cookies, cakes, candies, hot chocolate, etc. We have all indulged for too long and now we have to get back to healthy snacks, snow or no snow!
  • Find new exercise routines that you can do indoors -- that can be walking through the house while you are watching television, exercise videos or games that keep you moving, exercises that can be done while sitting -- bands or other leg routines.
  • Do not let yourself carry more than 1 item at a time -- when clearing the table -- make multiple trips to the sink, when bringing laundry to the machine -- take small amounts at a time, when bringing things up or downstairs -- make as many trips as you can -- it keeps you feeling active and healthy.
  • Write yourself notes and keep encouraging "signs" throughout your house -- in the kitchen, by your computer or phone. Set up reminders to eat healthy, keep active and be productive. It can be much more challenging to do these things when you are boarded up indoors instead of out with friends so keep helpful reminders of what you want to get done!
  • If you are up to it, go out and shovel the snow away with each storm. It doesn't hurt to do a little at a time until waiting for the entire storm to be over and struggling with 6-12 inches at one time. Doing smaller amounts a few times burns more calories and is safer and healthier.

Bad weather is sometimes an issue for some people. Yet, it shouldn’t be, taking into consideration the importance of being physically active! For one, you can embrace the weather and engage in winter activities like ice skating, skiing, sledding, or snowshoeing. But if you do so, do not forget to keep hydrated and dress appropriately for the weather. Or at the same time, you can still go to the gym!

But if those options are not appealing enough and you don’t want to face the weather and desire to stay in your warm quarters…. You can get workout DVDs or work with an online trainer and exercise from the comfort of your home. Additionally, you can do calisthenics, which are exercises that do not need any equipment. They increase body strength and flexibility with movements such as bending, jumping, swinging, twisting or kicking, using only one's body weight for resistance. Some examples of calisthenics are lunges, jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, crunches, pull-ups, squads, calf-raises, dips, and flutter kicks. When performed vigorously, they can benefit your muscular and cardiovascular fitness, and improve your psychomotor skills, your balance, agility and coordination.

You’ve got to keep moving and exercising even though it's winter. Get outside for your walk or run. Wind, snow, and cold needn’t slow you down if you dress appropriately with layers to keep you warm and reflective clothing to keep you visible on dark days. Be sure to stretch and warm up your muscles first, since cold temperatures make your body less flexible and more prone to injuries. Wear shoes with deep traction to prevent slipping on wet or icy roads. I love throwing mine in the dryer just before heading out.

If you just can’t make yourself go out, get out your exercise ball, bands and dumbbells and pop in a DVD or look at your TV listings for workout shows. Those are always fun.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Lack of time is only one excuse people use to avoid starting and sticking to a physical activity routine. Another is the weather. Many people begin an exercise regimen in the spring, work out in the summer, reach their fitness peak in the fall, and, then, as winter approaches, give up altogether. Then they start from scratch all over again the next spring. This disruption to the routine is completely unnecessary, since it's so easy to come up with alternatives to exercising outdoors. Joining a gym or a club or simply buying equipment for an at-home gym can fix this cause of unnecessary aging. Even shopping malls provide great indoor walking routes, as do hospital corridors. (As an aside, hospital corridors can certainly help remind you how important it is to do all you can to stay healthy.) More than 4 million Americans over sixty-five now mall-walk regularly to burn an average of 2,000 kcal a week. That makes their RealAge (physiologic age) as much as four years younger.

Find a sport you love that can be played indoors in the winter such as badminton, squash, or racquetball. You could swim in an indoor heated swimming pool. If you really prefer being outdoors but get stopped cold by winter, learn how to dress for the weather. The proper gear can mean the difference between suffering and enjoyment. The advances in exercise wear in the past ten years have produced new fabrics such as fleece and Lycra that make exercise clothing both warm and lightweight. To really make the most of the cold weather, learn a winter sport. There are few sports that provide the complete body workout of cross-country skiing. Ice-skating, downhill skiing, and snowshoeing are other fun sports that can turn those gray winter months into something you actually look forward to.
Darren Treasure, PhD
Sports Medicine
Create your own at home workout routine. Jumping jacks, pushups, sit-ups, leg lifts, squats, and running in place are all exercises that can be completed at home at no cost. Throw in some light lifting using cans of peas or bottles of washing detergent and you are well on your way to creating a great whole body workout. 

A large number of households in the US have exercise equipment that are now substituting for laundry lines or are buried under a pile of old clothes. Take a few minutes, dust the equipment off and get going.

Hit the stairs at work and commit to finding ways to get in some aerobic activity during your regular work day. Along the same lines, power walk when you are at the mall or waiting for a plane at the airport.

Join a health club or the Y. There are now gyms that specialize in providing services for every type of exerciser.
Beth Oliver

Join a local gym or recreation center. Invest in a few good pieces of outerwear that will keep you warm and dry, including a hat. Dedicate an unused space in your house for a yoga mat and a few simple items like a weighted training ball or hand held weights. Rent some new exercise DVDs that you can do at home. Walk indoors in a mall or up and down the stairs in your office building.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.