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Working up a sweat during the winter

Posted 1/25/2016 | News

By Elizabeth Braatz

“It is over yet? Has the groundhog seen its shadow?” No, it’s actually only January and in Wisconsin, we have months and months left of colder temperatures, dark mornings and plenty of excuses not to get out and get moving.

However, even if you’re not willing or don’t want to join a health club, you can still work up a sweat during the winter months. And, much like warmer weather-related activities, winter sports and activities can be great fun and can burn calories from those hearty winter meals and stews. Plus, you may discover a workout that you can do all year long.

As a marathon runner, I love to run in the rain and snow. It’s sort of a badge of honor to have frozen eyelashes or snow around your ankles mile after mile. This positive mentality towards adverse weather also allows for no excuses not run outdoors and breathe in the fresh air. If it’s over zero degrees (with wind chill), I’m bundled and outside on the pavement. This way, I’m ready for spring racing!

Here are some ways in which you can burn calories in the coldest of months without having to step foot into a health club:

  • Hit the water! Dig out your swimsuit and hit the pool. Many communities and high schools in the area offer open lap swim for adults during early morning hours. The fees to use the pools are very nominal, and swimming is extremely low impact and improves breathing technique.
  • Hit the weights! Resistance train in your jammies. There are so many wonderful workouts online and even more fitness apps that offer resistance training exercises using free weights, bands and kettle bells. Invest in some quality equipment and setup your basement as a gym. Simply download and start flexing those muscles. Check out Gym Buddy and Pumping Weight for some great exercises. Don’t want to invest in weights but want the workout? Use soup cans or bags of flour as weights and start lifting.
  • Hit the wall! Visit an indoor rock climbing facility and improve your cardio and muscle strength as you climb higher and higher. Adventure Rock in Brookfield has many walls for an optimum challenge -
  • Hit the ice! Ice skating is not just for your eight-year-old self; it’s also a great workout. Ice skating tones your quads, glutes and core, and burns around 500 calories per hour. If it’s too chilly for outdoor skating, there are many centers around Milwaukee who offer indoor, free skate times. Check out Ozaukee Ice Center at for open skate times.
  • Hit up your dance skills! Barre is a wonderful form of exercise that utilizes the core and strengthens and tones many muscles without the impact of high-intensity sports. If you don’t want to pay for private classes, there are many DVDs on the market that you can use and home, like The Bar Method’s Change Your Body Workout. Plus, Barre requires very minimal equipment – a mat, a water bottle and some sticky socks.
  • Hit the tramp! Trampoline jumping is a surprisingly great workout that’s also a lot of fun. Hit a trampoline park like Sky Zone - - and jump with your kids for hours. Repetitive jumping tones your legs and core, and will definitely give you a good sweat. Want the same effect but don’t live near a trampoline park? Consider visiting a bounce house facility like Jumping Country -
  • Hit the “open gym” with your kids! Many communities offer open gym time for families for no fee. Grab a basketball, dodge ball or volleyball and have family games. Make it a weekly tradition and burn calories as a group.
  • Get Plyo in your home! Plyometric movements incorporate cardio endurance and strength for short bursts of time. These workouts are simple, require no equipment and can be done in your living room with a stopwatch. Shoot for 30-60 minutes of plyo workouts, several days a week, incorporating moves like jumping jacks, gorilla jumps, rapid squats, mountain climbers, burbees and get-ups. Do one exercise for one minute, 30 seconds off and move on to another one. Repeat several times for a total of 30 to 60 minutes – guaranteed to burn calories, get your heart rate up and break a great sweat.
  • Hit the straps! Although a bit pricey, TRX straps are notorious for an amazing workout and can be installed at home. This workout is a favorite of Navy SEALS and is a portable suspension workout that challenges your entire body as you fight against gravity. Further, the exercises can be modified to accommodate your fitness level and injuries. The straps are an investment that can be used for years to come. Check out for more info.
  • Hit the white stuff! Get out in the snow with your family and build a snowman, have a snowball fight or go skiing. All activities burn calories, increase endorphins and are a lot of fun for all ages.
  • Hit the pavement! If you’re like me, even in colder temperatures, walking and running outdoors is completely doable. Check out Yak Traxs - - or Snow Trax. These products are easily attached to your shoes and provide traction, even over thick ice and snow. Further, many sporting goods retailers offer winter weather gear, including insulated tights, base layers and thick sport gloves for use during very cold days. Remember, you still sweat, even in cold temperatures, so it’s good to keep your body insulated so you don’t get too cold and run the risk of hypothermia or frost bite.

Although the winter is long, there is no reason why you cannot get out and move, and stay in shape all year long. 

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