Snow slows things down. It's one of its blessings, but it's also a bane—a potential barrier to winter exercise for people who want to get in shape or who like working out outdoors. And even if losing weight isn't this year's top New Year's resolution, every January there are plenty of us who vow to slim down only to find ourselves snowed in at the get-go. "Many people look at snow as an obstacle to serious exercise," says often-snowy Salt Lake City–based trainer Gregory Florez, CEO of FitAdvisor Health Coaching Services, which partners with companies to help them maximize their wellness programs, and a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. "But snowy conditions provide the perfect opportunity to mix up your routine and demand different things from your body." In other words, you can make the snow work for you, and for your workout.
Here's how to get a workout from the next wintry mix:
Try snowshoeing. If you can walk, you can snowshoe, says Florez—and if you can snowshoe, you can walk without slipping or sliding on the snow. See our snowshoeing guide for help getting started with this easy-to-do winter exercise.
No snowshoes? Step out anyway. While snowshoes provide a more intense workout than simply walking on the snow ("There’s more surface area," explains Florez, "plus, you can go uphill on snowshoes"), don’t immediately dismiss a snowy walk as a workout option. "In fact, walking in the snow requires more energy and provides more resistance than walking on solid ground," says Florez, "so Nordic walking—or, walking on snow with trekking poles for balance and support—is an excellent way to get out of the house and get some exercise." Just make sure you dress warmly, in waterproof clothing, you wear boots or shoes with gaiters to keep your feet dry, and you tromp on unpacked snow for a more intense, less slippery workout.
Read on for more winter exercise advice.