Sweater weather calls for exactly that—warm sweaters, cozy blankets, and a hot cup of cocoa, perhaps while spending time with family. The chilly weather in winter may not be ideal for an outdoor workout, but still, it's important to take care of your mind and body all year long. This means keeping up with your favorite form of winter-friendly exercise and also looking out for your skin while doing it.

Easily determine how to stay active in the winter—and keep the seasonal spirit alive—with these family-friendly activities.

5 Activities to Do in the Winter

Knowing how to stay active in the winter will prevent that seasonal slump. While exercise is beneficial for physical health, it's also a key contributor to strong mental health. According to the Mayo Clinic, an active lifestyle can improve depression, anxiety, and stress levels—not to mention the benefits of spending time in nature. Per Scientific Reports, spending 120 minutes in nature is associated with good health and well-being.

The kicker? All that sun exposure adds up, even in the wintertime. Just remember to properly apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen before enjoying these winter activities and you can rest assured your skin is protected.

1. Ice Skating

If you've never been ice skating, you're in for a real workout. Ice skating may look and sound like it's all fun and games, but it's an exercise that works nearly every muscle in the body. Outdoor ice skating rinks are perfect for enjoying the crisp winter air, but indoor ice skating rinks also exist in warmer climates.

2. Sledding

Sledding workouts at the gym mimic actual sledding in the snow. Hauling a heavy sled up a steep hill burns more calories than you'd think. It's a great form of cardio while also building strength. Plus, kids love it. Sledding down the hill after each uphill trek is like a mini resting period to recoup your energy before repeating. Determining how to stay active in the winter doesn't have to be boring, and sledding is the perfect example of a fun winter exercise for families.

3. Playing in the Snow

Do you want to build a snowman? The first snowfall calls for having snowball fights, building snow people, and making snow angels. Throw on your warmest jackets, scarves, and boots and get to playing. This is a great way to encourage kids to stay active while making it fun. Playing in the snow is exercise, but it never feels like a chore.

Remember that sunlight reflects off snow, so your broad-spectrum sunscreen is even more important here. Per the U.S. Department of Agriculture, up to 85 percent of sunlight can reflect off of sand, concrete, water, and snow.

4. Skiing and Snowboarding

Many people have a ski resort somewhere near them, which comes in handy when you're wondering how to stay active in the winter. If you live in a climate that doesn't get a lot of snow, it's worth the drive to squeeze in some skiing and snowboarding each winter. Many families use their annual ski trip as a bonding opportunity, but it also doubles as an intense workout. In fact, building up strength ahead of time is a good idea to prep your body for the challenges of skiing and snowboarding.

A study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine compared downhill skiing to the cardiovascular effects of indoor cycling and rowing. For a fun way to get your heart rate up and make the best of winter weather, consider a day trip to your local ski resort.

When packing for your trip, throw in an extra bottle of sunscreen (or two) along with your goggles, gloves, and other ski gear. Just as you bundle up to protect your skin from potential wind burns and frostbite, you need to apply (and re-apply) your protection against ultraviolet rays.

5. Hit the Hiking Trails

Walking, jogging, and hiking are activities that you can enjoy and benefit from year-round. As the seasons change, you can appreciate the new season and the new views that come along with it. Though you'll feel cold at first, keeping a quick pace will help you stay warm while getting the recommended amount of exercise each week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, and hiking definitely qualifies.

It's tempting to stay inside all winter long; after all, curling up next to the fireplace sounds more comfortable than braving the snow, wind, and rain. But when the weather allows, make it a priority to get moving. Whether that's a brisk walk or a long day at the slopes, determining how to stay active in the winter is a must for overall health—and applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen is key to protecting your skin from the elements.


  • Lacey Muinos

    Lacey is a Southern California-based freelance writer who combines her passions—fitness, health, and a vegan lifestyle—with her work to help readers feel and be their best. Her work has been featured in Healthline, Livestrong, Verywell Fit, Eat This Not That, KinderBeauty, and more.

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