10 Activities to Keep You in Shape During Winter

Winter can be a challenging time to stay motivated and in shape. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, the meals, treats, and liquor can feel never-ending. In fact, studies have shown that the average person gains five to seven pounds over the winter months.

We know that eating smaller portions of nutrient-dense foods and reducing our intake of fats, sugar, and alcohol can help to manage our weight, but physical activity is just as important! Staying active during the chillier months can be especially difficult. Finding the motivation to get out from under your warm covers and move your body can be challenging, but it’s not impossible!

We’ve put together a list of our top 10 activities that will help keep you in shape over winter.

1. At-home workouts

Forget warming up your car, scaping the windows, and running from your vehicle to the gym. Working out at home offers the shortest commute to a fitness facility and leaves you with zero excuses to get moving.

Building a home gym can be as simple or as extensive as you’d like. Some of the basic equipment to include in your home gym includes:

  • Dumbbells

  • Kettlebells

  • Resistance bands

  • Jump rope

  • Yoga or exercise mat

If you’re not sure where to start or you’re looking for some motivation, consider joining an online fitness class or program. Search on YouTube and Google to get started. There are a ton of free or paid options. Some of them don’t require any equipment!

Photo: Jonathan Borba

2. Stairs

Running stairs is a great high-intensity exercise that builds speed, power, agility, and cardiovascular health. If running isn’t your thing, walking stairs has its benefits as well! 

If you live in a condo or apartment building, you’re probably in the most ideal scenario for stair running during the winter. Use the stairwell to save yourself from the cold. Even those living in a house can use their stairs — as short as they may be — repetition might get boring but your legs will thank you in the long run. If you’re brave enough, or temperatures are hovering near zero, bundle up and find the nearest set of stairs in your neighbourhood. All that fresh air will be an added bonus!

Photo: Bruno Nascimento

3. Indoor sports 

Signing up for a group activity can help keep you motivated over the winter. Committing to a team holds you accountable for showing up and getting in a workout. Plus, you get to hang out with some like-minded people and probably have a bit of fun.


Consider indoor sports like: 

  • Basketball

  • Volleyball

  • Soccer

  • Floor hockey

  • Squash or racketball

  • Dodgeball

  • Rock climbing

  • Boxing

  • Dance

Photo: Lorenzo Fattò Offidani

4. Walking 

One of the easiest ways to burn calories and stretch your lower body is by walking! If you have a FitBit, you probably know that taking 10,000 steps a day is a healthy goal for adults.

During the winter months, it’s possible to go for a nice stroll — while wearing the proper gear of course. Grab your merino wool base layer, your favourite puffy coat, mitts, toque, and a good pair of boots, and you’re good to go! 

If outdoor walks sound like a drag during the winter, consider a good old fashion indoor mall walk or hop on the treadmill  — either at home or the gym — and walk your way into Spring!

Photo: Lum3n

5. Swimming

If you want to mentally escape from winter and pretend that you’re on a beach vacation, consider going for a lane swim. Check out the open swim schedule at your local indoor pool and be sure to hit the hot tub afterwards to really make it worth your efforts.

Photo: Jonathan Chng

6. Ice skating

If you live in Canada, chances are you’ve gone ice skating at least once in your lifetime. This activity is perfect to do with family, with friends, or solo. Rinks can be found both indoor and outdoor so if it’s a bit too chilly out, consider finding an indoor rink near you and looking into the public drop-in skate schedule. If you’re keen on a game of shinny or ringette, that’s also an option to kick up the calories burnt.

Photo: Pavel Danilyuk

7. Tobogganing 

Bust out the GT snow racers, challenge your friends to a race, and maybe hit a jump or two. Tobogganing is a fun way to keep your snow pants from becoming too snug. At the very least, you’ll probably laugh the calories off from feeling like a kid again.

Photo: Kari Fulmek

8. Snowshoeing

Lose some holiday weight while taking in some winter wonderland scenery by getting out for a snowshoe! Pack some snacks, a hot beverage, and your camera, and go explore. There are a ton of beautiful snowshoe trails throughout Alberta like Elk Island, Waskasoo Park, and Chester Lake. Many outdoor equipment stores rent snowshoes and the activity requires very little gear or skill so getting “after it” is very easy.

Photo: SivaSankara Reddy Bommireddy

9. Cross-country skiing

One of the most effective winter activities for cardiovascular health is without a doubt cross country skiing! This sport is a full-body workout, challenging your balance, your lung capacity, and muscles you didn’t even know you had.

Trails can be found both in and out of the city. Many provincial parks have beautiful trails and you can get out there whenever you want - no reservation necessary! If you want to kick it up a notch, there are many cross country ski races held around the province that can be a fun challenge.

If you’re unsure about the sport, start by renting the gear. If you enjoy it, brand new gear is quite affordable — ranging from $250-500 for brand new equipment.

Photo: Glenna Haug

10. Downhill skiing or snowboarding

The last activity on the list, and our personal favourite, is skiing and snowboarding. Shredding some gnar is one of the most enjoyable ways to stay in shape during the winter! Skiing and snowboarding challenge your cardiovascular system, your balance, your endurance, and your strength. Plus all that fresh air, beautiful scenery, and laughter with friends is downright good for the soul.

Photo: Xue Guangjian Follow

If you’re new to the sport, consider renting the gear before buying everything flat out. Ski and snowboard tour companies make it easy for you to get out to the mountains as well. Backside Tours offers group and U-Drive trips for all skill levels and ages. They take care of the logistics so all you have to do is pick which ski onesie you’ll be wearing on the mountain.

Backside Staff
Backside Staff