If you have a New Year’s resolution for 2018 you may be wondering about ways you can stay active during the cold winter months especially if you live in one of the colder states. Despite the temperatures and formidible conditions, there are great ways to stay active, you just have to think outside of the box.
Quick Run Down:
- Biking in the Snow
- Cross Country Skiing
Traversing the snowy tundra by foot may not seem exciting but with snowshoes on your feet, it can be great fun and exercise. Snowshoes enable you to cross deep untouched snow with ease and confidence. Unlike hiking, you’re able to go way off trail and explore new areas and even if you spend time on packed trails, snowshoes give you plenty of additional grip over boots. Snowshoeing does take more effort than walking, but this makes it a great form of exercise. A study published in Journal of Exercise Physiology found snowshoeing at even a self-guided pace provides “sufficient intensity to increase cardiovascular endurance and positively alter body composition.”
Snowshoeing is also an affordable and simple activity to get into. While many winter sports like skiing and snowboarding require hundreds to buy equipment and a heavy investment of time to develop the skill, snowshoeing is much more accessible. A pair of quality shoes often cost less than $100 and the majority of northernly parks has trails suited for snowshoeing.
Biking in the Snow
Biking in the winter has become fairly popular with the proliferation of Fat Bikes. While fat bikes give excellent traction on the snow due to their large tires and surface area, they aren’t a requirement to bike in the snow. By Installing larger tires with big spaced out knobs nearly any bike can perform in snowy conditions. In order to stay warm, we recommend investing in cold weather cycling gloves, helmet, and footwear. Layering your clothing and ensuring you have a water or wind resistant outer layer on will keep you warm and dry.
Check out our guide on winter biking gear for more information and product recommendations. When riding we advise minimizing your proximity to busy roads or cars in general. With slippery road and bike conditions, biking close to the road is often not a risk worth taking. Mountain bike trails or bike paths can be the best spots, and you’re likely to have the trail to yourself.
Many think of kayaking as a warm weather activity but It doesn’t have to be. The kayak itself originated from cultures living in the arctic circle and were initially used in very cold arctic conditions. You too can kayak in the winter but it does require more planning and safety precautions. Overall you’re looking to minimize your risk of flipping over and to ensure that you stay warm. Capsizing in freezing water can turn a fun trip into a dangerous situation very quickly. Make sure you take extra time to account for the weather and plan your trip out from start to finish.
We recommend kayaking in an area you are familiar with or have kayaked before and ideally shallow water and close to a shoreline. Slow moving rivers or small lakes are great options to minimize danger. It’s also important to keep a dry bag with spare clothes. This way if you do capsize you can have dry clothes to change into. Kayaking can offer an intense core and upperbody workout and is an excellent way to stay active. For more tips and recommendations on kayaking check out our guide.
Cross Country Skiing
Cross-country skiing is an alternative that offers a unique way to experience the outdoors in the winter. There are two main forms of cross-country skiing that differ in equipment, technique, and trail requirements. If you already downhill ski, cross-country skiing in the freestyle or skate styles may be a natural transition since some of the principles and techniques are the same, however, someone new to the sport can also pick it up with patience and training. Classic style cross-country skiing requires a narrow maintained track and may take more training to master.
Getting into the sport requires some investment. Buying skis with bindings, boots, and poles will begin at around $500, not including any equipment or attachments for ski transportation. Like any new activity, you’re considering that that requires an investment we recommend finding ways to try it for free. Many sporting goods retailers offer free training or equipment demos of their products at local trails. Renting skis is also an option in some locations. This will also give you an opportunity to try both styles of skiing as well.
Popular with children, sledding is fun at any age. It also offers you an incredibly fun way to stay active in the winter and depending on the hill can generate a serious aerobic exercise. The beauty of sledding is its simplicity. While many other activities require specialized equipment, hundreds in investments, specific conditions or trails, sledding stands out as an accessible winter sport requiring little skill. For as little as $30 you can buy a sled and have hours of fun and exercise.
Finding a good sledding hill isn’t very hard either. Many local news stations provide lists of nearby sledding hills and a quick google search of your area should yield great options. Bear in mind sledding can be dangerous. It is advisable to wear a helmet if sledding near trees or on a busy hill.