The best winter exercise alternatives for newbies who want to get in shape


Winter. Here it is. Rain. Snow. Cold. Dark. Somehow, nature plays a cruel joke on all of us with exercise related New Years resolutions (smirk). Motivating yourself to exercise is hard at the best of times, right? And its even harder when the weather does not play along … and there are less hours of daylight. Plus, our energy levels feel lower when it’s dark and rainy outside. Who wants to exercise under these conditions?

How do you motivate yourself to start or resume exercising in the wintertime?

I get it. It’s just so cozy in bed early in the morning. And at the end of the day, we just want to get home. We are tired and still have a lot of other things to take care of before we go to bed.  We also tend to feel more tired in the winter months. Our bodies are happy to hibernate. That makes it harder to “get up and go”.  But on the other hand, we all know that we will feel so much better when we exercise.  And that exercising regularly is one of the best ways to increase your overall daily energy levels. That is why we set exercise and health intentions at the beginning of the year. We have a bit of a conundrum.

If you want to have more energy and feel better, physical activity is your best friend.

So what’s the solution? Do we just suck it up and do it anyway? Or is there an easier way? Yes and no. Yes, we should do it anyway. But no, it does not need to be so hard. In fact, research shows, the easier we make it on ourselves to be physically active, the more likely we will stick to it. The trick is to find things you love to do. And conscientiously plan the details around those activities to make it easier to do them.

The best types of exercise are the ones we do.

As you may have guessed, one tip is to have variety in your activities. This prevents boredom. And helps us get into the habit of being physically active. There may be more activities one can think of doing in the rest of the year, but that just means you need to get more creative in the winter.

Want exercising regularly to be less difficult? Make it fun and easy to get started.  

Another aspect which will help you make exercising easier, is knowing what gear you need.  In other words, everything you need to be able to enjoy exercising – even if the weather is not perfect. You don’t want the weather or other conditions to get in the way. The gear also needs to be handy and easy to reach.  Not packed away in the storage room somewhere, but lying out, ready to go when you need it.

Achieve your exercise goals by removing the barriers which keep you from exercising regularly.

So, in the spirit of helping you achieve your exercise and health goals this year, I’m sharing my winter exercise inspiration with you. AND, I’m including a gear list to make it even easier for you to do. The goal is to get you out of bed or off the couch to do something for yourself. And to start loving it. Sounds good? Let’s go!

Winter exercise inspiration 1: Walk, run or hike in the rain. Instead of letting the weather keep you from reaching your health goals, shift your perspective to start enjoying it.  Once you accept that you might get a bit wet – and as long as you are warm enough – its actually beautiful. Suit up in the right gear for the weather outside and start enjoying what is. The rain is cleansing and refreshing. The forest, grass, even beach smells amazing when it is drenched. The air is fresh. Everything glistens. And usually, it’s pretty peaceful. Because everyone else is at home!

  The gear you need: Good running shoes, synthetic tights, a thin wool toque and gloves, a breathable long-sleeved top, a waterproof but breathable jacket.

Winter exercise inspiration 2: Enjoy the snow. The snow is a spectacular playground to exercise in. There are so many different activities you can do in it. And all of them burn fat like crazy. Whether is hiking, snow shoes, skate-downhill-cross country skiing, tobogganing.  Heck, even snow shoveling! All of these activities involve your whole body. And the cool temperatures have you burn more fat than you would in fair weather. So put on your warm gear and get out there before the snow is gone!

  The gear you need: A base layer out of thin wool or silk, synthetic athletic pants and long sleeve shirt. A thin wool toque and gloves and warm socks. Depending on the level of exertion and climate, extra layers for warmth such as vests or a sweater and a breathable jacket. A backpack with water, snacks and extra clothing.

Winter exercise inspiration 6: Ice skate. Whether indoors or outdoors, skating is a great way to get physical, burn calories and strengthen your core and lower body. In addition, it helps us maintain our sense of balance. Balance is one of the key indicators of good health. And if we don’t practice it, we lose it. Fast. And this includes folks in their twenties and upwards.

I picked up skating a few years ago shortly after I had my daughter. I had never skated before and wanted to learn so that I could show it to her once she was ready. Now, I absolutely love it!  And it gives me something to look forward to at the end of summer.

  The gear you need: Synthetic athletic pants and long sleeve shirt. Depending on the level of exertion and temperature, extra layers for warmth such as vests or a sweater. Warm thick socks and a breathable, windproof jacket. A warm wool toque, gloves and socks. Comfortable skates and a helmet for safety. If you are new to skating, consider adding elbow and knee pads.

Winter exercise inspiration 5: Hit the gym. The gym is a great place to go when the weather is nasty outside. Also, it’s a handy alternative when it is still (or already) dark. For example, for those early morning workouts, directly after work or after your dinner has settled before going to bed. Whether it’s cardio training or resistance exercises you are looking for, a well stocked gym has enough variety to keep you entertained until the weather becomes friendlier outside.  It’s especially convenient for those folks who live where the winters are long.  Most gyms have staff who are happy to give advice and set you up with a workout routine.

Fitness classes add even more variety. Spinning, Yoga, Pilates, TRX training, squash, rowing, etc. It’s all good because it gets your body moving. Try indoor rock climbing gyms. Choose what makes you happy and start feeling good about what your doing to promote hour health.

In the summer months, I usually reduce my gym visits to once a week. I do a full upper body weight routine.  But in the winter, I’ll take my weekday bike rides indoors as well when it’s too dark outside. I am not friend of the treadmill (see inspiration #1 instead), but I know many who love it. Newer machines offer guided runs through inspiring terrain shot on location. For example, last week, my partner ran through a spectacular park in New Zealand, without ever leaving his neighbourhood.

  The gear you need: Comfortable stretchy, synthetic athletic pants and a sports top. A long sleeve shirt for cooler gyms. Sneakers with good support and sports socks.

Winter exercise inspiration 6: Warm up in the pool. There is no place I’d rather be on a wet, rainy day than splashing up a storm in the warm water of my neighbourhood indoor pool. If I have time, I will reward myself with a quick 5 min hot tub before resuming with the rest of my day. If you are lucky to have pool with windows, it does not even feel like you are indoors.

  The gear you need: Bathing suit, goggles and a bathing cap. Slip proof flip flops. Kick-boards, pull-boys and flippers to add variety (if you like them).

Short of getting out of Dodge and going to a southern locale (and there is nothing wrong with that idea either), there are a lot of exercise alternatives right where you are. Pick the alternatives which you enjoy the most and which are the easiest to do regularly.

At the end of the day, the best exercise is the one you do regularly.

For more tips on how to integrate exercise in your day-to-day then CLICK HERE for a previous post on the subject.

In good health,



Simone Alberts is a success coach, psychologist, mom to a 5-year-old and founder of The Self Coach Approach. She empowers freedom seekers to know exactly how to coach themselves so they can create the life they really want – and not settle for the default.

If you missed it, catch the replay of my free 5-Day What is Your Why Challenge by clicking here.

Simone is available for a select group of one-on-one coaching clients. Besides personal coaching, she teaches people how to coach themselves, either one-on-one or within a Mastermind group. Which method would work best for you? Check out the options on my website by CLICKING HERE.

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