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7 Fun Ways to Exercise This Winter (Without Freezing!)


With the worst of winter brewing, your motivation for working out is on a slippery, icy slope. As tempting as it is to stay snuggled up in your bed and hit snooze on that alarm clock this time of year, you don’t have to let your fitness routine hibernate. The next few months don’t have to be spent on the couch with comfort food nearby. By mixing up your workout calendar and maintaining a positive attitude, you’ll be beating the winter slump in no time. Check out these festive ways to burn extra calories and say goodbye to boredom all season long.

1. Train for a holiday race

What could make working out more fun than running with all the bells and whistles? Signing up for a holiday 5K race or marathon is a cheerful option to get you in the winter exercise spirit. These races spice up the regular racing routine by encouraging runners to dress in a festive costume. For the Arthritis Foundation's series of Jingle Bell Run/Walk events, runners wear holiday-themed outfits and tie jingle bells to their shoelaces. The Las Vegas Great Santa Run gives every participant a Santa suit to wear during the race. And The Holiday Marathons series offers marathons on Christmas Day and News Year’s Day. There are tons of other holiday-themed races out there, so check out Active.com to find one in your area.

2. Take a new exercise class

We all know that when winter weather sets in, going to the gym can fall to the bottom of our to-do lists. But there are plenty of out-of-the-box workout classes to get you excited about the gym! Bypass the boring treadmill and sign up for something completely new to make burning fat fun. Nothing will thaw your winter laziness like hot yoga or piloxing, which is a blend of Pilates and kickboxing.

“This is a good time of year to take a class indoors,” says Megan Fink, a junior from The University of Southern Mississippi. “I'm in Kung Fu, and it's definitely a workout.”

Mandaline Dunne, a senior at Loyola University Chicago, says she looks for discounts at studios during winter since she would rather work out inside. “I found a couple local yoga studios that offers first-month discounts, so I plan on joining a couple of those during the cold-weather months,” she says.

Signing up for a class can also motivate you to go the gym because you have a specific day and time in place, not just the “I might workout sometime today” mentality.

Check your local gym or campus recreation center’s exercise schedule and perk up your routine! 

3. Find a winter workout partner

Exercising is easier when the sun is shining and just looking outside doesn’t make you shiver. That’s why when winter rolls around you need an extra jolt of motivation from a fitness-minded friend. Find a workout partner to be your ray of sunshine when things get snowy and miserable outside. It’s harder to let someone else down than it is to let yourself down, and that’s even truer in the winter. Make plans to meet a group or another fitness-minded collegiette to exercise. This way, when you’re feeling lazy and tempted to skip out on your workout, you’ll be less likely to cancel on them since you know they’ll be counting on you.

Caitlin McCoy, a senior at Miami University, says teaming up with a pal is a perfect way to make going to the gym more desirable. “I usually end up working out longer when I’m with a friend because [I’m] not focused on how much time is passing,” says McCoy. “It’s also a fun way to catch up with friends you haven’t seen in a while. It doesn’t even feel like you’re working out.”

So next time you need inspiration to hit the gym, text a friend to join in!

4.Get creative at home

Getting to the gym can be more of a hassle when it is cold outside, but don’t let that be an excuse to not exercise at all! A great alternative is working out at home, where's it's cozy and warm. Whether you pop in an exercise DVD, buy an exercise app or invest in a few free weights, staying at home is a convenient and fun way to stay in shape.

Try the free Nike Training Club app on iTunes. It includes more than 100 custom-built workouts. You could also check out workout tape series, such as Insanity, Pure Barre DVDs or other exercise videos on demand on your TV. You can even do a few exercises while you study orin your dorm room.

When heading out the door seems like a no-go, try a few of these options to still get your workout in. After all, home really is where the (healthy) heart is!

5. Try an extreme winter sport

Let’s get adventurous, collegiettes! If you’ve always wanted to try skiing or snowboarding, now is the perfect time to hit the slopes.

One option that will definitely whip you into shape is cross-country skiing. Instead of zooming downhill, you must propel yourself across flat surfaces and up slopes—and then you occasionally get a downhill break. Cross-country skiing is not only an NCAA and Olympic sport, but it’s the perfect winter sport to challenge your endurance and strength. And you’ll tone your arms, legs and butt while enjoying the winter snow. You may not reach gold medal status in one winter, but give this sport a try for a fresh take on working out!

6. Play in the snow

Forget that college status for second and embrace the kid in you. Whether it’s building a snowman, sledding, having a snowball fight or building an igloo, these classic options are great for getting exercise in a sneaky way.

Annie Blanks, a junior English major at Sewanee, says she always plays in the snow to celebrate the winter weather. “My friends and I have snowman-building contests on the quad during the winter,” she says. Annie adds that it’s a surprisingly killer workout. “Running around rolling those big heavy snowballs doesn't even seem like a workout until afterwards when we crash,” she says.

If you get especially stir-crazy this winter, go back to basics for a superb workout! If you’re more of a fan of ice than snow, get a group of friends together to go ice-skating. 

7. Bundle up and bear it 

As much as the bitter temperatures make you want to avoid the outdoors, sometimes taking on the outside is the best option. Running outside in the fresh, cool weather can actually be a refreshing twist to staying indoors.

“The coldest weather I've run in is 16 degrees. It sounds freezing, but it's actually doable if you wear a couple pairs of leggings, Under Armour and gloves and a hat,” Mandaline says. “The brisk winter air is really invigorating.”   

Just throw on some layers and get going. You’ll warm up as you go! And you can always go shopping for cute warm workout gear to keep you motivated!


Whether you’re trying a new class or simply making the best of a cold day, there’s no reason to get out of shape during the winter season. So throw off the covers and lace up your running shoes. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and that includes being active! 

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