Struggling to start a winter workout, or stay consistent? The good news is that when it comes to staying active, a world of possibilities opens up in the winter! With options ranging from stay-at-home workouts to skiing, many people actually find it easier to stay in shape over the winter months.
Interested in creating your own winter workout plan? Use the tips below to customize a workout plan that’s a good fit for you during the winter season.
Tips for a Winning Winter Workout Plan
The temptation to curl up under the covers in winter is real, but cold weather workouts have their advantages. With the humidity, heat, and sweat of summer gone, it may be easier to work out for longer periods of time. This can lead to burning even more calories, and may improve your endurance level.
Research also suggests that winter workouts may be beneficial for mood and immunity during a season with fewer daylight hours. Getting outdoors when you can, even for just 15 minutes, can ensure you get enough vitamin D during winter. Essentially, even a short workout can make a big difference for your mood and health.
Explore the following tips for winter workout inspiration, even on days when the weather won’t cooperate.
Start With Your “Why”
It can be easier to keep moving in the winter when you remember your “why,” or the reason you started working out in the first place. For some, physical activity is crucial to boosting their mental health, especially at a time when “winter blues” can strike with a vengeance. For others, it’s key to ensuring a good night’s sleep or that they have the stamina to keep up with their kids!
When you look for them, there are reasons to delay staying active, no matter the time of year. Instead, look for reasons to make movement possible, regardless of what the weather looks like outside! Tapping into your motivation and seeking out opportunities for exercise can make movement a more natural part of your daily schedule.
Burn A Few Extra Calories with Winter Chores
Even though you may feel sluggish at certain points in the winter, it’s important to remember that your body uses up extra energy just by trying to stay warm. While you shouldn’t necessarily expose yourself to cold temperatures on purpose, activities like shivering may help you to burn a few extra calories. Some outdoor cold weather chores, such as raking leaves or shoveling snow, can also assist in weight loss efforts.
Don’t Skip Your Warm-Up & Cool-Down
Stretching can be especially important this season to warm up muscles. Beyond providing a source of warmth for your muscles, it ensures range of motion.
Don’t know where to begin? The following movements can help prepare your body for a cold weather workout:
- Arm circles or swings
- High steps
- Walk in place
Enjoy Winter Weather Activities
The winter comes along with its own activities, unique to the season. Savor this special time of year by participating in the following forms of physical activity that may not be available during other seasons:
- Ice skating
Even snowball fights or making snow angels with the family can count! Hiking can also be a fun way to appreciate the winter landscape. However, you’ll want to ensure you have the proper gear and that the weather is safe, along with having a well-planned route. In general, you’ll want to be exposed to the elements (extreme weather) for as little time as possible.
…Or More Gentle Forms of Fitness
For some people, the most productive and healthful thing they can do this season is to slow down. Engaging in more gentle forms of exercise, such as pilates or yoga, may be helpful. These types of exercise can still contribute to burning calories, but may leave you feeling more rested and replenished than a HIIT routine, for example. Nature walks or walking your dog can also count, and are slow-paced ways to enjoy what the season has to offer.
Try At-Home or Indoor Workouts
When the weather gets intense, it’s time to take the workout indoors! It may be worth joining a gym for the winter season (keep in mind that they get busy come January), or exploring the gym facilities at your place of work. Walking the hallways or stairs during your work break can help you get your steps in. Walking around an indoor mall as you shop for holiday gifts or hostess presents can also count!
Having your own at-home workout space can also be helpful when winter weather bites. There are many types of inexpensive workout equipment, such as hand weights or resistance bands, that you can take advantage of. Try introducing these types of movements into your home workout routine:
- Chores/cleaning like vacuuming
- Climbing the stairs
Thanks to technology, there are a plethora of online options available. Consider joining online membership or group for accountability, or simply find workouts through Youtube (or another preferred social media platform).
Embrace the Cold
If you’re intrigued by the cold, winter can be a great time to embrace the chill. Studies show that exposing the body to cold temperatures (in a safe way) may have potential health benefits. In fact, research suggests cold conditions may help white fat transform into brown fat (the type that can be calorie-burning).
Consider appreciating the cold in the following ways this winter:
- Explore winter swimming
- Participate in a polar bear plunge (an event where participants enter a cold body of water)
- Take an ice bath (a.k.a. cold water immersion therapy)
Elevate Your Winter Workout
Taking your workout to the next level involves steps taken outside the gym, too. For example, a balanced diet and supportive sleep routine can take a workout routine from being good to being great. Consider these additional tips for boosting your winter workout plan, and making the most of the snowy season.
Take Diet Into Consideration
Due to holiday season festivities, or simply in an effort to stay warm, you may be eating more food than usual. Luckily, you can adjust your workout intensity or length accordingly, especially if you’re aiming to meet any end-of-year goals before the new year.
During a busy winter season, it can be helpful to plan out meals ahead of time in order to keep meals as healthy as possible. Our resource on meal prepping for the fitness-focused can help you get a head start on healthy eating for the week.
Try Energizing Exercise with Kratom
If you’re having trouble waking up on cold, dark mornings to workout, herbal pre-workout options may help. Kratom, in particular, has been described as uplifting and energy-enhancing, and some options even come with caffeine for an added boost.. In other words, kratom may be a good fit for you if you’re looking to invigorate your workout routine in the winter.
Wrapping Up Winter Workout Plans
Winter can be an exciting time to exercise, and the chill of the season may even have health benefits. Take advantage of cold weather activities, or use activities like shopping, chores, or at-home workouts to spruce up your daily routine. Don’t forget to tap into your motivation daily, and to support your workouts with other healthy habits, like healthy meals and herbal support.
American Heart Association. How to Stay Active in Cold Weather. Heart.org. Published December 2016.
Bleakley CM, Bieuzen F, Davison GW, Costello JT. Whole-body cryotherapy: empirical evidence and theoretical perspectives. Open Access J Sports Med. 2014;5:25-36.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 6 Tips to Stay Active This Winter. Cdc.gov. Published June 2022.
Cleveland Clinic. How to Stay Active Outside When the Weather Gets Colder. Health.clevelandclinic.org. Published December 2020.
Ellis E. Family Exercise Ideas for Every Season. Eatright.org. Published January 2021.
Harvard Health Publishing. The wonders of winter workouts. Health.harvard.edu. Published December 2018.
Jesner L. 8 Workouts That Are Perfect for Winter. Everydayhealth.com. Published March 2022.
Lee P, Linderman JD, Smith S, Brychta RJ, Wang J, et al. Irisin and FGF21 are cold-induced endocrine activators of brown fat function in humans. Cell Metab. 2014;19(2):302-309.
National Institute on Aging. Five Tips for Exercising Safely During Cold Weather. Nia.nih.gov. Published October 2023.
National Institute on Aging. Safety Tips for Exercising Outdoors for Older Adults. Nia.nih.gov. Published April 2020.
Wagner AL, Keusch F, Yan T, Clarke PJ. The impact of weather on summer and winter exercise behaviors. J Sport Health Sci. 2019;8(1):39-45.