Many people think of winter as a season to indulge in indoor activities and sports, or as the perfect time to hibernate until spring. But as cozy and comfortable as a warm couch by a fireplace may feel, there are a number of health and wellbeing benefits to getting outside when the weather gets cold. Whether you need a little convincing to become a winter outdoors-person, or have been enjoying the great outdoors in winter for years, here are a few activities that will keep you moving (and having fun) when the temperature drops.
It might sound counterintuitive, but spending time outdoors in winter is good for your mental and physical health. Taking a brisk walk outside has been found to help with concentration and creativity, improving mood, and helping you get your vitamin D intake, which can be especially difficult in winter.
Skiing and snowboarding are the obvious choices for winter sports, but there are many cold weather activities for every fitness and skill level, even for the slightly risk averse.
Yoga in the park or by the beach is a quintessential rite of summer, but if you love flowing through your warrior poses and sun salutations with the wind in your face, you don't necessarily have to roll up the mat and head for a heated studio or home until spring comes back around. Snowga (yoga) classes and retreats in the snow have been cropping up all over the country in the past few years, and offer a great low key way to get outside in winter. Make it your main activity, or use it as a way to unwind after something more intense like skiing.
Ice or Snow Biking
Adventure lovers will find a nice break from the ordinary with ice or snow biking. Ice biking involves bikes equipped with special blades (think of a bike on ice skates) to help you glide across frozen lakes, as popularized in Buffalo, New York. Snowbiking can be accomplished in a few ways, from a standard bike on fat, treaded tires to a bike mounted on skis that allow you to glide your way down a mountainside. Look for this activity at ski resorts around the country, from Idaho to Colorado to Connecticut,
Head to a National Park
There are many amazing places in the U.S. for a winter escape, but consider putting some of our national parks at the top of your list. At Yosemite National Park, avoid the summer crowds and partake in their winter activities, from ice skating to snow tubing and both downhill and cross-country skiing at the Badger Pass Ski Area. (Fun Fact: Badger Pass Ski Area is the oldest downhill ski area in California.) Other parks to consider visiting during the winter are Bryce Canyon, Rocky Mountain National Park, and from our friends over the border, Banff National Park in Canada.
Strap on Some Snow Shoes
Snow shoeing can be as off the beaten path and elaborate an activity as taking an evening tour of the Ben and Jerry's factory in Vermont, or taking a trek through New York City's Central or Prospect Park during an epic NYC snowstorm. This is a great winter activity for people of all ages and fitness levels, and may turn even the most devout cold weather hater into a fan!
Warm Up in Hot Springs
OK, we admit it's nice to be warm when it's cold. And while Iceland may be at the top of our list for this, it might be a bit of a stretch. So if you can't make it to Iceland, take your pick out west in California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Utah, among others, and soothe your winter-fatigued bones and muscles (and soul) with a dip in one of the many natural hot springs.
If you can't make it to the mountains, look for home and office hacks to help you make the most of breaks and time spent indoors. A FluidStance deck will keep you moving while you work, and simulate the feel of a snowboard under your feet until the next time you can get away to experience the real thing!
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