Jan 13, 2023 12:00 AM

Author: University of Utah Health Communications

The weather is cold, the days are shorter, and your motivation to get moving may be minimal. Many of us tend to slow down a bit as the colder weather limits our outdoor exercise options. However, there are several ways to stay active outside at this time of year.

Dress for the weather

Before you head out into the cold, though, make sure you have the proper outdoor clothing and gear

Dress in layers 

Layers make it easy to remove clothing as you start to sweat, and then put back on as needed. If you wear clothing that you sweat in, the damp clothing can cause you to be chilled.

  1. Start with a base layer, something that can draw sweat away from your body such as polypropylene (avoid cotton).
  2. Add a mid-layer made of fleece or wool for insulation.
  3. Top it off with an outer layer that is waterproof and breathable.

Protect your hands, feet, and ears

Cold weather causes the blood flow in your body to be concentrated on supplying the core, which can leave your extremities vulnerable to frostbite. Wearing a pair of thin gloves under heavier gloves is recommended.

Consider purchasing shoes that are a size larger than normal to allow room for thick socks. Also make sure your shoes have proper traction—especially if your activity involves the snow or ice. YakTracks are great additions to your exercise shoes that add extra traction.

Use reflective clothing

The daylight hours are shorter, so make sure that you’re safe by being visible. Reflective clothing will allow you to be seen better at any time of the day.

Get moving outdoors

Now that you are properly dressed, what are you going to do outside? Check out these suggestions for ways to get moving outdoors:

  • Snowshoeing: If you enjoy hiking, then you might like snowshoeing! Most trails used for hiking can be used for snowshoeing in the winter. The best part is snowshoeing burns more calories. Be sure to use established trails and stay aware of avalanche conditions if snowshoeing in the backcountry.

  • Cross country skiing: This is a great way to get in your cardio AND strength training all in one workout. Cross country skiing involves all the major muscle groups of the upper and lower body. It’s also is a great way to clear your head and relieve stress.

  • Sledding or snow-tubing: Sledding may seem like a passive activity, but you can burn a lot of calories when dragging your sled up a hill. You also use your core muscles to keep your body upright and steer your sled. This is a great way to get kids outside and moving.

  • Ice skating: Your leg muscles and core get a great workout when you are out on the ice. Skating can also help improve your balance and increase joint flexibility. This is a great cardio workout without having to move quickly.

  • Snowboarding and skiing: Skiing and snowboarding helps with something called proprioception—the ability to feel the position of body parts and what it takes to move them. Both sports also help improve balance, core strength, and flexibility.

fitness winter exercise sports medicine

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