Winter Workouts

(While the edmontonian wants you to be healthy, we also want you to consult with health, medical, and/or exercise professionals before embarking on any new exercise regimes, including those we talk about or mention. You’ve got to find something that works for you and your fitness level. the edmontonian and its contributors aren’t responsible if you injure yourself.)

By Jen Hamel

In our City, winter seems to be the never-ending season. So, how, you ask, do I stay fit throughout the long, cold Edmonton winters? As much as I enjoy a lengthy run through the heart of the city; when the snow falls and the temperature drops I use these months to try a variety of different fitness alternatives. I tend to lift weights more in the winter months; to build lean muscle, boosting my metabolism, and to increase my strength. This also helps me to reduce back pain from shoveling heavy snow. Adding variety to your regular exercise program can be helpful in increasing motivation levels and helping you be more consistent with your workouts.

If you are someone who likes to work out in groups, you may want to try fitness classes like Zumba, spin, kickboxing, or a bootcamp. The average calorie burn is between 350-850 calories per class.

  • Take up martial arts like Taekwondo. You’ll learn discipline, build self-confidence, and burn up to 600 calories per hour.
  • For lower-impact options try swimming laps, for a great cardio workout, earning you an average burn of 550 calories per hour. At 275 calories per-hour yoga classes are wonderful for improving flexibility, strength and a great form of stress relief.

If you are someone who enjoys exercising at their own pace then these options may appeal to you:

  • Indoor/treadmill running – If your goal this year is to run a 10k or half marathon this is a great way to progress your training throughout the winter. You’ll burn up to 650 calories per hour.
  • Rock climbing at an indoor climbing wall is a fun way to enjoy the afternoon on a cold and snowy Saturday. My husband and I also use this as a date night option. We climb until our arms don’t work anymore and then go for a nice meal.

If you are new to exercising, or just need to add some variety, a couple of great options for your home or personal gym are:

  • Hire a personal trainer who provides home visits. Then you are eliminating your commute time, and you never need to drive to the gym in -35, blizzard-like conditions.
  • Have a certified personal trainer setup a custom exercise program, and purchase a few sessions to have them teach you correct exercise technique to ensure you are not going to get hurt and that you will maximize your results. If hiring a trainer to visit you several times a week is not an option then you could look at getting help from an online coach, which is a more affordable option.
  • If you enjoy being completely alone while you exercise you can purchase a variety of these exercise forms on home DVD, such as yoga, kickboxing, Zumba, Pilates, Tae Bo, P90X, TurboJam, etc… Depending on how aggressive your program is and what type of video you chose you can burn between 350-800 calories per hour.

On the days that the sun shines, and the temperatures are milder, you can get outside and enjoy breathing in the cold, crisp Edmonton air.

  • Cross-country skiing can be done in the river valley, or any large open space, burning on average 450 calories per hour. Its thrill seeking counterpart will have you sweating off over 330 calories per hour as you slalom down the hill.
  • As an Edmontonian girl, I always looked forward to our family outings to Hawrelak Park to skate, until my heart was content on the frozen ponds. I not only displayed my own independence but burned off an average of 375 calories per hour.
  • Another great winter pastime is snowshoeing. It’s a wonderful way to involve your whole family in your exercise plan and enjoy a new experience together, burning off about 450 calories per hour.

No matter how you stay fit throughout the winter remember these 3 rules:

  1. Stay Active – Whether it’s a walk, shovelling snow, or a few stretches try and be active for 30 minutes everyday.
  2. Stay Consistent – Being consistent is the key to seeing long-lasting results and maximizing your health benefits such as lower blood pressure, reduced bad cholesterol, and improved heart health.
  3. Stay Safe – Whenever you begin a new exercise program remember that doing too much too soon can increase your risk for injury. Make sure you always warm-up a few minutes before increasing your intensity and stretch all major muscle groups afterward; you will reduce muscle soreness, improve your flexibility, and reduce your risk for injury.

When Jen Hamel isn’t writing for the edmontonian, while snowshoeing to a rock climbing session, she’s a professional trainer at

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