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Baby, it’s cold outside. Which is probably why you’d rather reach for a cozy blanket than your running shoes. Even though the weather might be frightful, there are still some fun ways to integrate a wintry mix of fitness exercises with festive activities! The coolest part is that most wintertime exercises torch way more calories than your regular sweat session on the treadmill. Don’t just sit around and “wait out” the next couple of months—you’ll only set yourself back from meeting your fitness goals. Get out there and winter work-it!
1. Reconnect with a Classic Pastime
Build a snowman – It’s rarely considered to be much of a workout, but making a snowman can burn mega calories. And if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. First of all, there’s loads of squatting involved throughout the process and a lot of walking and heavy lifting, too. That snowball face isn’t going to put itself on top of the two other snowballs, now is it?
Ice skating – Lace up those skates, find a frozen pond or rink, and prepare for a casual, but full aerobic workout! This winter staple is not only a physical activity that the whole family can enjoy, but it also burns major calories. It’s a great cardiovascular activity that really benefits your glutes, core and legs (particularly the inner thighs that don’t really get worked too often), because it requires a focus on balance at all times.
Sledding – Believe it or not, your favorite childhood winter activity is actually a decent form of exercise. Although staying upright emphasizes your core and balance, it’s not the actual downhill sledding that will kick your butt—it’s the trek back up the hill that will work your glutes and hamstrings. Try walking up sideways and backwards, too, in order to work your muscles at different angles and increase strength.
Snowball fights – Add some mild cardio to your day by slinging slush at your friends and family (just make sure they know about it first!). Whether you go at it in teams or take the solo route, your legs will surely get a good workout as you run for cover. The combination of short bursts of sprinting and throwing engages your arms and core, making this a solid workout overall. These games can last for a long time since everyone is having a lot of fun, so don’t underestimate the power of a classic snowball fight.
2. Get Extreme
Cross-country skiing – Shred some snow (and those extra pounds) with this low-impact overall body workout. Cross-country skiing will work your entire body from top to bottom, including your shoulders, triceps, core, hamstrings, quads and glutes. It requires pretty much every muscle in your body and requires some serious endurance. Unlike traditional skiing, there are no breaks here, so you’ll get the very most out of this workout. Kick it up a notch by doing a series of intervals—sprint for one minute, rest for one minute, then repeat. If sprints aren’t your thing, try to find a trail filled with hills that’ll help increase your heart rate naturally while you build endurance.
Snowshoeing – It’s not the most popular outdoor activity on this list, but it’ll sure get your blood flowing. Snowshoes are much larger than your actual foot, so you have to work twice as hard to lift your leg each time you take a step. This is mainly a lower-body exercise that works the hips, glutes, hamstrings, and quads, but when paired with a set of poles, you’ll also be strengthening your biceps, triceps, shoulders, and upper back. Now, that’s a full body workout!
Snowboarding – Since you’re not holding poles here, the main work you’re doing is with your core and lower body, but you can still burn 300 to 450 calories per hour shredding the gnar. This sport requires a lot of weight shifting, so your obliques will get a lot of action, while your feet, glutes and hips will be fully engaged in order to turn and cut aggressively down the mountain.
Skiing – It’s no secret skiers have great legs. So, if you’re wanting to tone your poles, skiing is perfect because it depends on your inner thighs, hips and outer thighs to help you maneuver. Just like snowboarding, your feet are always moving along with the muscles in your shins and calves, and because your knees are always bent on skis, your quads are constantly activated. You can burn as much as 450 to 670 calories per hour if you’re truly speeding downhill!
Hiking – You might not think of this as a workout, but spending an afternoon hiking will exert quite a bit of energy. Between the extra layers of clothing needed to stay warm and a full backpack of supplies, you could be carrying an extra 20 pounds with you! Some studies have even found that hiking on uneven terrain increases the amount of energy your body uses by 28% compared to walking on flat ground. So don’t be surprised if a day of hiking has you spent.
3. Go Dashing Through the Snow
Running in the winter is one of those things you either love or hate. But, here’s a fun fact that might sway you: Some studies have shown that you burn more calories running in cold temperatures than you do in warmer temperatures. Do a quick stretch, some jumping jacks or power squats to warm up before you step outside. Since snow and ice require your inner and outer legs to work harder to keep you stable, you’ll get an added level of resistance in your workout. Consider inviting a friend (or a few!) to enter a themed 5k or 10k race. The more the merrier—you’re more likely to pick up your pace when running with a group.
4. Try Snow-ga
You might not want to attempt this during a full on blizzard, but there are definitely lots of benefits to doing yoga in the snow. For one, your body burns more calories in cooler temperatures, but you actually burn the most calories when you’re shivering. And since you’re not losing any water through sweat, you’ll continue to burn even more as you workout. Depending on what positions you try, yoga can work your entire body, including your legs, core, arms, back and shoulders. Just remember to bundle up before you attempt this one!
5. Shop ‘til You Drop
Make the most of your shopping trips no matter where you go. Whether it’s the mall, the movies or even the grocery store, you can choose to park at the back of the lot and take the long way to the front door. If there’s a parking garage, park at the top and take the stairs. Kick it up a notch by routinely dropping off your purchases at your car to get some extra steps in before entering another store during your next shopping spree. And to avoid those impulse purchases, do 10 bodyweight squats to give yourself extra time to think it over. There are plenty of ways to get some extra steps in while out and about, you just have to be mindful of your surroundings.
6. Play Christmas Movie-Themed Fitness Games
It’s easy to get into the routine of binging Hallmark movies and holiday classics on demand, but put your body to work while you watch! Come up with fun movie-themed fitness games for your favorite flicks, like this Home Alone workout:
• 15 jumping jacks when Harry or Marv get hurt
• 5 burpees when you see Harry’s gold tooth
• 10 push-ups when Marv says, “Wet Bandits”
• 10 sit-ups when someone says, “Merry Christmas”
• 15 jumping jacks when Kate yells at someone in an airport
• 1-minute plank when you see the tarantula
• Alternate 30 seconds of high knees and 30 seconds of butt kicks when someone screams
7. Chop Wood or Shovel Snow
Turns out there’s an upside to these super annoying chores: they burn a ton of calories pretty quickly! You can shed over 200 calories in about 30 minutes of sledging away shoveling snow. If you need wood for your fireplace, consider chopping it yourself because it’s a killer core workout. You can burn 400 to 500 calories in an hour. Plus, you’ll have the cozy reward later on of getting to relax in front of a roaring fire as you enjoy your handiwork (along with a cup of LIMU LEAN hot chocolate).
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