I often find myself dragging my feet during the cold, grey, and dark winter months while living in Indiana. I dream of warmer weather and meticulously plan out fitness goals and road trips I can take once the weather starts to take a turn for the warmer side. However, I must remind myself that the winter months can be just as fulfilling as the summer months. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t get your fill of outdoor recreation and fitness. There are tons of fun winter activities with a wide range of difficulties (plus numerous advantages to getting exercise in the colder weather.)
Fun things like skiing, snowshoeing, and even snow camping can be adventurous ways to put your skills to the test in a chilly outdoor environment. Not quite ready for those yet? That’s okay! There are lots of options for cold-weather newbies that we can explore together.
Let’s start with one of the simplest, yet extremely rewarding winter activities. Snowshoeing is easy; all you really need is an inexpensive pair of snowshoes, some snow, and your favorite hiking trail. You’ll get a different perspective on a place that you’ve probably hiked many times before and find it can be just as beautiful in the winter months. The snow will absorb all the sounds around you and will allow you to truly escape into what feels like another world. You’ll feel the burn in your legs, I promise. Snowshoeing isn’t a walk in the park, which makes this activity very worthwhile across the board!
This activity is made for thrill-seekers and people who are ready to invest in a long-term winter sport. Of all the winter activities, this one is my favorite! The feeling of sailing over a blanket of white snow with the wind in your hair is addicting. It requires a lot of concentration, but once you hit that flow state, it’s a feeling unlike anything else. Skiing takes preparation, and to really dive into it probably deserves multiple blog posts. Here are some starters, though. You don’t have to live in a state with mountains to learn how to ski! There are tons of smaller ski areas scattered across the U.S. that are great places to learn. Downhill skiing isn’t the only type of skiing you can do. Cross-Country skiing gives you solitude away from busy alpine ski resorts, and since it’s performed at a much slower pace, it’s a great alternative if you’re just learning to ski.
Not going to lie, this one is definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s more of a test of durability and skill over anything else. This will prove just how hearty you really are, and maybe earn you some bragging rights. Wondering what snow camping entails? It’s camping but instead of pitching a tent, you build yourself an igloo or dig into a snow bunker for protection against the elements. Snow camping is a great way to test your survival skills and gear. If you can successfully camp in the harsh winter conditions, you will build confidence in your abilities for future adventures. Plus, snow camping is fun! I mean who doesn’t love playing in the snow and making forts? If you’re ever looking to do some extreme mountain climbing, this is a great starting point. My one big tip I can’t go without mentioning is to heat up some water, put it in your water bottle, and then place that in your sleeping bag. This will help keep your toes nice and toasty all night long and your sleeping bag will radiate the heat.
Cardio intensive activities are great to do during colder weather. One reason is that it’ll get you prepared early for whatever outdoor fitness goals you have planned for the summer months. In my case, that includes mountain climbing. Working out in colder weather comes with many physical benefits. The cooler air keeps your heart rate low and helps regulate your breathing, allowing you to bump up your endurance. For an endurance athlete like me, those are two crucial aspects of my fitness routine that I’m always looking to improve. You also burn more calories in the colder temps because your body works hard to stay warm, and that can’t be a bad thing after all those holiday sweets!
The dreariness of winter shouldn’t mean all of your outdoor fun needs to stop. Being open-minded and having some resilience will open the door to so many new winter activities, even more than just the ones listed above. In addition to all of these great physical benefits, getting outside has countless benefits for your mental health. Cabin fever can be a real concern for many, especially during a pandemic, so getting out of your house and exploring a new place can do wonders for your mindset in a time where everything seems so surreal. Challenge yourself to get outside this week, no matter the temps outside! I promise you will feel better for it.