Whether walking the dog or doing laps around the neighborhood, walking is a great low impact way to exercise. “Taking a walk on your lunch break or any time the sun is shining is also one of the best ways to get a dose of vitamin D during the winter months,” Bracko says. Being outdoors in the crisp, cold air helps clear your mind and reduce stress, while the extra energy needed to walk through snow or into the wind can help with weight loss. For those with orthopedic limitations, Milbrandt suggests walking with walking poles. “They can support themselves and walk further and for a longer duration if they use poles,” she says. If you still have reservations about outdoor winter exercise, combine workouts with acts of charity, like walking a sick friend’s dog. Otherwise, you can always hit the gym and get to work on the 15 workouts that burn the most calories, according to science.
Why you should exercise outside in winter
Plummeting temperatures, icy winds, and the fact that daylight disappears before the work day ends can make it difficult to get motivated to go outdoors for a workout, but a recent study shows that exercising in colder temperatures can help burn more calories. Simply existing in a cold environment is more energy demanding than being in a warm environment, says Cara Ocobock, PhD, an anthropologist at the University of Albany. Her study found that people who hike in temperatures of 15 to 23 degrees burn 34 percent more calories than those who hike in more comfortable (mid-50s) temperatures. While the subjects of the study carried backpacks and hiked in the Rockies, there are several cold-weather activities that deliver high-calorie burning results—as long as you follow the essential rules to exercising outdoors in winter.