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Best Outdoor Adventures for Exercise in the Winter

Exercise This Winter by Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowkiting or Mushing a Dog Sled


Why exercise in a gym during the winter, when you can dress warmly and play outside. Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, winter hiking, snowkiting and other outdoor adventures will give you plenty of exercise.

1. Parkour - Scramble Over Cars & Leap Off Walls Like James Bond

Practicing parkour in Santorini, Greece
Photo by Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull
Don't want to leave your urban environment? No problem. Take up parkour or free running. If you can picture yourself jumping over fences, running on a wall, doing a cat leap then jumping down and rolling to right yourself, these urban adventures may be for you.

2. Extreme Skiing Keeps Adrenalin Flowing and the Body Moving

Skiing champagne powder at Steamboat, Colorado
Courtesy Larry Pierce

You need to stay in the moment when skiing or snowboarding down extreme slopes, always ready to move your body quickly to stay in a good line.  Here's a list of resorts that have some terrific extreme terrain, plus tips from locals on the best ways to tackle these slopes.

3. Snowkiting - Fly Through the Air on Skis or a Snowboard

Backcountry snowkiting in Idaho with Snowkiting Soldier
Aaron Beck

Picture yourself in a kite hooked to a harness lets you ski or snowboard fresh backcountry powder for hours.  You are skimming atop virgin powder snow in an open meadow, on a frozen lake or sliding down a mountainside

4. Winter Walking

Put on a pair of boots appropriate for walking in the snow and head for a local walking trail. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has a free Web site that describes hundreds of trails around the country.

5. Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

Cross country skiing near hot springs in Yellowstone National Park
(c) L Friedland

Cross country skiing and snowshoeing both offer incredible aerobic exercise and it doesn't take a lot of training to enjoy either sport. All of the winter resorts in North America have a Nordic center, where you can rent cross country equipment and use the trails. January 8 is Winter Trails Day, when many Nordic center offer deals to get you on cross country skis or snowshoes. Even if you can't get out that day, the site offers links to many Nordic centers.

6. Get an Ice Ax and Pitons and Start Ice Climbing

Learning to climb in Teton Ice Park at Grand Targhee Resort, Wyoming
(c) Tim Shisler

All along the spine of the Rocky Mountains and westward you'll find avid ice climbers dangling from ropes on the icy sides of canyons and sheer cliffs. You can get ice climbing instruction in the world's first ice park in Ouray, and in the park oriented toward beginners in the Teton Ice Park


7. Mushing Huskies Driving a Dog Sled

While sitting in the back of a dog sled doesn't take much energy, mushing the huskies and steering the sled does. Here are several places around North America where you can go dog sledding.

8. Exercise in Cold Weather: Tips to Stay Outside Safely

Here's some sound advice on how to play and exercise outdoors in the winter safely offered by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

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