Bringing Your Fitness Routine Indoors for the Winter


It seems like winter is a time when everything slows down, including our desire to exercise. During the longer, nicer days of spring, summer, and even the beginning of fall, it’s easy to head out for a brisk walk, play in the yard with your kids, or take a swim. Winter generally makes us feel like hibernating, which is why you may need to winterize your fitness routine and shake things up a bit!

According to the CDC, we should be getting a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week, regardless of the season. In addition, getting in two days of strength training that targets all of your major muscle groups will round out your routine. Regular exercise burns calories, increases your energy level, strengthens muscles and bones, and reduces the risk for chronic disease.

Need some more help making sure you put in your time when you would rather be snuggled up on the couch? Try the following:

  • Schedule your workouts like you do your meetings – they should have a place on your calendar. Block off the time, whether it’s first thing in the morning, a quick walk at lunch, or right after work, and just get it done.
  • Use a walking work station – If your company has them, sign up for a 30 minute session using a walking work station. While you may not burn a huge amount of calories, you will get the recommended 30 minutes of daily activity in.
  • Use 10 minute increments – if you can’t come up with a 30 minute block of time during your day, try breaking it up. Doing 10 minutes of running stairs at work, 10 minutes of resistance training at home, followed by 10 minutes of ab work will get your activity in before you even know it.
  • Make it fun! – Start a game of tag with your kids, or pick up a book and act out any physical elements as you read. While watching TV, use commercial breaks to get in quick workouts. The average hour-long TV show now contains approximately 15 minutes’ worth of commercials, so you can get in half of your daily requirement.

Full Body Workouts, No Equipment Necessary

If you need some ideas for bringing your workouts inside, the following require no equipment – and, as an added bonus, you can do them anywhere!

Chair squats: Using a bench or chair as a guide, put the weight of your body on to the heels of your feet, and stick your backside out. Reach your arms straight overhead, then continue bending your knees as if you are about to sit down, and return to standing. Complete 10 – 15 repetitions.

Incline push-up: Using a wall, bench, chair, or table, hold a plank, and then bend your elbows. Bring your chest towards the bench, and bring your backside with you. Remember to draw in your abs. To engage your triceps, try a few keeping your elbows close to your body. Complete 10 – 15 repetitions.

Lunges: Position yourself into a staggered stance, with your rear heel elevated and front foot forward. Begin by descending, flexing your knee and hip to lower your body down. Maintain good posture throughout the movement. At the bottom of the movement, drive through the heel of the front foot while keeping the front knee and ankle in line, to extend the knee and hip, and return to the starting position. Complete 8 – 12 repetitions per side.

Core walkout: Standing with feet hip width apart, hinge from your hips to bend over and touch the floor with your hands (your knees can flex slightly). Walk your hands out in front of your body maintaining a flat lumbar spine (remember to draw in your abs). Walk your hands out until you are in a plank position without losing the neutral lumbar spine, and then walk your hands back toward your feet, and retrace your steps back to a standing position. Complete 4-6 repetitions.

Cardio: Try combining short bursts of these cardio exercises with those listed above, to create your own full body workout!

  • High knees
  • Burpees
  • Squat jumps
  • Jumping jacks
  • Mountain climbers
  • Calisthenics (i.e., side shuffle, grape vine, skipping, etc.)

Full Body Workouts, Some Equipment Necessary

If you have access to free weights and a stability ball, try the following exercises. Combine with the suggestions for cardio above, or, if you’re using a gym, throw in a walk or jog on the treadmill, or elliptical training.

Squat and press with dumbbells: Shifting the weight of your body onto your heels, keep your shoulders back and down, your chest open, and your abs drawn in. Complete an overhead shoulder press after complete your squat, which will create a dynamic exercise. Complete 8-15 repetitions.

Lunge with bicep curls: Positioning yourself into a staggered stance with your rear heel elevated and front foot forward, hold a dumbbell in each hand, and descend, flexing your knee and hip to lower your body down. Maintain good posture throughout the movement. At the bottom of the movement, drive through the heel of the front foot while keeping the front knee and ankle in line, to extend the knee and hip to return to the starting position. Complete 8-15 repetitions per leg.

Tricep kickbacks: With a dumbbell in each hand and palms facing your torso, bend your knees slightly, and bring your torso forward by hinging from the hips. As you bend, make sure to keep your back straight until it is almost parallel to the floor. Keep your head up and you elbows close to your body. The movement is from a bend in elbows to a straightening of the elbows, while squeezing your arm straight. Keep your elbows in one place; do not swing.Complete 8-15 repetitions.

Bridges with chest press: With your feet hip width apart, and your ankles directly under your knees, push your hips off the ground through the heels of your feet, and tighten your core. Add a chest press with dumbbells as you raise your hips. Complete 8-15 repetitions.

Ball crunches: With your lower back supported by a stability ball, keep your feet flat on ground. Try not to roll the ball as you keep your abs tight and stabilize the ball with your legs. Place your hands behind your head, inhale, and then exhale as you lift your chest up until you feel abs engage and your spine become neutral. Lower back to the starting position and repeat. Complete 15-30 repetitions.

CDPHP® offers a host of free community wellness classes throughout our service area, in addition to many free classes accessible through our partnership with The Healthy Living Center. You can also visit the fitness and exercise section of our website for tips and tools, including CDPHP® inMotion, which allows you to track your fitness and nutritional activities on your phone, and share with other participants to remain motivated.

To continue your fitness regime outdoors during the winter months, check out our blog on winterizing your fitness routine. If you’re looking to hike or snowshoe to stay active, please refer to our previous blog, Winter Hiking and Cross Country Ski Trails, and stay tuned for our low- or no-cost ice skating and sledding post, coming soon!

Special thanks to CDPHP fitness specialist Jenny Williams for providing the excellent resources used in this blog!


Image by: Freepik

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