The best indoor exercises for when it's just too cold to go outside
We can all agree. Getting up to go the gym can sometimes be the hardest part of a workout, especially in winter. We know that we’ll feel better afterwards, but sometimes “bed” and “sleep” seem like way more urgent priorities. And while cold weather can actually be good for your workout, sometimes all that snow and sleet, not to mention icy cold temps, just make us want to bundle up inside.
So what do you do when the weather is too chilly to handle (2017’s winter is shaping up to be brutal), but your workout still needs to happen? Exercise at home! It might seem like the easy way out, but we’ve compiled a list of great suggestions for getting your gym on, sans gym.
Once you’ve worked off that Christmas dinner or Hanukkah latkes, these moves will help you get your blood pumping.
Make an exercise plan!
Blogger and fitness expert Carla Birnberg told us via email that she relates to the struggle of the weather making it tough to get to the gym. Based in Austin, TX, she has to deal with staying inside for hot weather as well as cold. So how does she deal?
“It all starts with planning,” Birnberg explains. “If I know the next day I’m going to have to create something that I do to snag movement and it will all be indoors, I will jot down three or four exercises I know I’m willing to do on an index card before I go to bed. Something simple along the lines of: five burpees, five mountain climbers, five jumping jacks, five high knees. Next I tape the card to my mirror. Nothing gets me going in the morning than not having to think before I ‘move.'”
One of our childhood favorites is actually great for indoor aerobics. Jumping rope is simple, cheap, portable, and great exercise. Don’t have a jump rope? No problem! Birnberg, who personally doesn’t like jumping rope, offered up a modification that just involves jumping and swinging your arms.
“I hate jump rope and yet people consistently tout jump rope as the perfect portable exercise. I don’t mind doing the jump rope movement with my arms and the same sort of motion with my feet — although I tend to do more side to side then up-and-down — with absolutely no rope involved at all!”
Either way, this exercise is a classic for a reason. Jumping rope keeps your heart rate up and is a great way to get in aerobics without covering too much territory indoors. It’s a win-win!
Use your body weight!
There are so many great exercises that you can do indoors that involve nothing but yourself and some comfortable workout clothes! Workout duo Fit Bottomed Girls recommends exercises like jumping jacks and ski jumps to get warmed up, planks, burpees, and flutter kicks for your core, pushups and chair dips for strengthening your upper body, and squats and lunges for strengthening your lower body. They even recommend using water bottles or soup cans as hand weights if you don’t have any at home.
What do yoga, pilates, and aerobics all have in common? You can check out free videos of them all on YouTube! Back in the dark days before the Internet, we used to have to buy or rent workout tapes, but now YouTube is filled with so many amazing workout channels for you to try at home. Basically, if you can dream it, there’s an expert on the Internet willing to show you how to rock it. Our personal favorite is Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred. There’s just something about her energy that manages to kick our butts into being motivated… even through the computer screen.
Break it up!
Another great tip for winter workouts from Carla Binberg is breaking up your workout into small chunks throughout the day. It’s great to get it all done in one go, but if you’re particularly busy or find you’re having trouble focusing, Binberg suggests spacing your workout into six five-minute chunks. She says, “More than anything I avoid indoor workout burn out through keeping it changing and by making these spurts of exercise short yet numerous throughout my day. I’ve jettisoned the notion that in order to be effective, my exercise routine needs to last 30 minutes or more. I will grab five minutes six times in my day and be completely satisfied and fit!”
It’s easy to think that in order to get in some good exercise, you need to do “traditional” exercises, but that’s not always the case. There are plenty of ways to get in a sweat sesh without going to the gym and without doing it by the book. Blogger Casey Slide over at Money Crashers used to host weekly dance parties with her friends to break a sweat and be social at the same time.
Binberg also recommends a cool, unconventional tip: never use social media while seated. “If I’m tweeting or skimming through Facebook, or posting to Instagram or looking at Pinterest, I’m moving. Plank, wall sit, even just ambling slowly through the domicile. Those steps add up quickly.”
We kind of love that! If you think about how much you’re sitting down while using social media (or Netflix), it will seriously freak you out. Might as well use that time to get your steps in!
And there you have it. Lots of great ways to get in an excellent workout indoors without braving the freezing tundra that outside your front door. Now let’s get moving!