Getting motivated to exercise in winter can be challenging, especially when you live in a cold climate. Even a quick jog around the neighborhood can sound unpleasant and potentially perilous (icy or un-shoveled sidewalks, anyone?). A marathon of the Netflix variety can sound far more appealing. And, by all means, indulge in one every now and then, but don’t miss out on the benefits of exercising outdoors just because the temperature dips.
Mixing it up may help. Take a break from your warm-weather routine instead of adapting it to the coldest season, and think beyond traditional winter sports such as cross-country skiing. These five winter activities will leave you having so much fun that you probably won’t realize you’re getting fitness, too. They’re great for adults and kids, and some of them are fairly inexpensive.
1. Broomball – Also known as broom hockey, broomball is a winter sport played on the ice. It is somewhat like ice hockey. However, unlike ice hockey, broomball is played without skates, hockey sticks or a puck. Instead, players use a stick called a broom to hit around a small ball.1 While you can buy special broom hockey shoes, players often wear sneakers or boots in recreational leagues and pickup games.2
Where to play: You can play broomball with your friends or family on an ice rink, or you can join a broomball league in your community.
2. Fat biking – Fat tire snow bikes are becoming increasingly popular among people in cold, snowy climates. As a matter of fact, fat biking is one of the fastest growing winter sports in the United States.3 So what is a fat bike? It’s an off-road bike (i.e., mountain bike) that’s designed to ride in snow, sand, bogs and mud.4 They have over-sized tires, typically 3.8 inches or larger, and rims that are typically 2.6 inches or wider. You can buy your own or check into renting one from your local bike shop.
Where to play: You can ride a fat bike on any snowy trails and expanses where fat bikes are allowed. These may be special fat-dedicated bike trails or shared trails shared with cross-country skiers and winter hikers. Research local trails online and be sure to check usage rules. Visit the International Mountain Biking Association website for fat bike best practices.
3. Curling – Another game played on ice, curling is both an Olympic sport and a recreational pastime. It’s often compared with shuffleboard, bowling and even chess. Players form teams of four, and they take turns sliding stones (also known as rocks) across the ice toward a house, which is a marked, circular target.5 Games are played to a set number of turns, also known as ends.
Where to play: Contact your local curling club or rink to inquire about opportunities to play and learn the sport. Visit the U.S. Curling Association website to locate your regional curling association.
4. Sledding – Whether you have kids or just want to feel like one again, sledding can be a simple, yet thrilling activity. It can also work your muscles and increase your heart rate as you climb the hill after each descent. After each effort, you get the reward of plummeting back down. If you don’t have access to a particularly steep hill, challenge yourself to run up to make it more of a workout.
Where to play: All you need is a snowy hill where sledding is allowed. Buy the type of sled you prefer and try to dress in layers with wicking fabrics as a base and waterproof fabrics on the outside.
5. Play in the snow – No hills for sledding? No problem. Simply bundle up and head outdoors for an inexpensive winter activity. Building a snowman or a snow fort can be a great upper-body workout—and way more fun than shoveling. A snowball fight can also get your heart going and leave you feeling reinvigorated—try to keep the contact gentle, though.
Where to play: Your own backyard.
1 Wikepedia. “Broomball.” Last modified Sept. 10, 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broomball
2 WikiHow. “How to Dress For Recreational Broomball.” http://www.wikihow.com/Dress-for-Recreational-Broomball
3 Averill, Graham. “Love to Fat Bike? This is Where to Ride.” Outside. Jan. 16, 2015. http://www.outsideonline.com/1928641/love-fat-bike-where-ride
4 Wikepedia. “Fatbike.” Last modified Dec. 17, 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatbike
5 Wikipedia. “Curling.” Last modified Jan. 18, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curling