14 great winter cardio ideas for the body and the spirit

Do you feel you are a lot less active int the winter then in the summer? Do you struggle to find good activities in these cold, snowy months? Other than relaxing on the couch…

puppy on sofa

You’re not alone. We all miss the nice, long days of the summer when we can easily go for a quick jog or bike ride even on weekdays because it is so beautiful outside all evening!

But now it is cold, wet and gets dark early. And my spirits are quite low, honestly. Which means I want to snack on chocolate, which means I will put on weight.

But no, not today. I will grab myself by the hair, do some cardio and cheer up. 🙂

Here’s the great ideas I got from the ladies in a fitness Facebook group I’m member of. They are fed up with the treadmill, too! Thank you, guys!

Winter cardio ideas outdoors

Do you live in an area where it snows? Cold? Maybe have some slopes or ice, too? Then these are all great choices for you over the weekends:

  1. Cross-country ski
  2. Downhill ski
  3. Winter hiking
  4. Skating
  5. Hockey
  6. Sledding
  7. Snowshoeing
  8. Shoveling 🙂

How much calorie we burn doing winter sports?

Apparently, quite a few! Cross-country skiing takes the lead, hockey is next. Downhill skiing, sledding and snowboarding follows. Last but not least, skating and shoveling snow will still burn above 100 calories in ten minutes for a 220 lbs (100 kg) person. Smaller women obviously burn less, 60-70 percent of that. And it all depends on the intensity, too! 🙂

See this winter sports infographic for details.

Skating, sledding, snowshoeing for newbies

Benefits of skating, sledding or snowshoeing: affordable, available and kid-friendly. There are skating classes for adults who want to try it first time. Snowshoeing is rather easy, the biggest hurdle is how to put the damn thing on, hahaha! Join a group of people on meetup and they will show you what you need to know, going uphill/downhill, etc.

What do you need to start skiing?

cross_country sk

Mountains or places with cross country tracks. Some golf courses have them within the city, for example. As for ski equipment, it is available for rent for the price of movie tickets and popcorn. You can also buy used to get started.

You have no idea where to start? Watch videos and again, join a meetup group for an affordable option. That’s what I did, anyway, and it worked for me. 🙂 The videos show you what to do, and the meetup group organizer will pick a nice location and take care of the drive there.

Another choice for beginners is to find a ski school or instructor for more advice and support.

Indoor winter cardio ideas

As much as I love to go outside every day, sometimes it is not possible. Maybe my schedule is so hectic that by the time I look up from the computer is is dark already. Or maybe it is below minus 20 for weeks, like last winter. Or raining or snowing.

Then what?

Go dancing, that’s what! 🙂 Last Friday I decided to go, but it was very cold, and I was sure the place will be empty… Who would bother to get dressed and go out, right?

Luckily, I was wrong, the place was packed, and salsa music is just the antidote I needed for winter blues! So this will be the first on my list for indoors winter cardio!

9. Dancing through the winter

It is easy, fun and it burns calories, tones your legs and core, what else do you want?


Options include taking classes, going to Friday night social dances, to a dance club or finding great videos on YouTube and dance away at home. 🙂

10. Benefits of swimming

Although it is a bit scary first, to go out in the freezing cold to get wet, swimming is actually a very nice cardio option once or twice a week. It is

  • affordable,
  • gentle on your joints,
  • good after strength training day and
  • a great sleeping aid.

Hit the steam room after you’re done for cleaning out toxins and compensating for too dry winter air.

11. Cardio classes

Spinning, Zumba, barre, pole dancing, kick-box… There’s classes in the morning, at lunch hour and after work. For beginners and for more experienced people, and for all age ranges. Benefits are:

  • instructor to teach you the basics and push you beyond your comfort zone,
  • other women working for the same goal to keep you company,
  • variety of activities to fight boredom.


12. YouTube

And yes, if all else fails, there’s a blizzard outside, you’re hair is a mess and you have no clean gym clothes… You can count on YouTube, best friend of the DIY people and self-motivated fitness lovers. From walking in place and aerobic to Zumba and kick-box, you will find something to suit your mood and fitness level. Even low-impact stuff for people with injuries or sensitive knees. And it is free. So no more excuses, ladies! 🙂

13. Walk and jog inside

In my city, there are places available where you can walk and jog in a building, or on running tracks, safe from the cold. There are even groups going together. Check out what your place has to offer.

14. Cardio machines

I left these as last ones, because I personally don’t use them, but they are valid options, available and easy to hop on for a quick sweat.

That’s it, folks.

These were my tried and true winter cardio ideas and I hope they will help you to keep your body in good working conditions until the nice weather is here again and we all can go walk, run, paddle and bike to out heart’s content!

See you soon!


the exercise lover life coach. 🙂