Five winter sports to consider trying

Are you looking to cross train during the cold winter months? Or, maybe you’re just looking for a fun way to change things up from day after day of doing the same basic workouts inside.
In the warmer months there are a seemingly endless number of ways to get exercise away from the gym. In the winter, not so much. Open your door when it’s 10 degrees out and tell me how many people you see out on and about in the neighborhood.
Don’t despair, there are a number of fun winter sports you can try.
Here are five winter sports you might want to look into, ranked in order from easiest to hardest. With the Vancouver Winter Olympics right around the corner in February, this list arrives at just the right time:

Cross country skiing – This is not an especially hard thing to learn to do, but depending on how hard you push yourself it can be an extremely grueling aerobic exercise.
It burns about as many calories as any athletic activity, up to 500-600 in an hour.
For beginners, though, plan to follow short ski routes and get the hang of this sport while breathing in fresh winter air.

Downhill skiing – I find downhill skiing a bit trickier for beginner’s to learn than cross country skiing because of the speed involved on the hill and added coordination needed.
Once you get the hang of it, though, downhill skiing is a great activity to do with family and friends.
It improves balance, flexibility, and strength in the legs and core and it’s a lot of fun, too.

Snowboarding – Snowboarding also is a great way to experience outdoor winter exercise and fun. It works the legs very well, and especially the ankles, which are used for steering.
It’s just flat out good for your mental health as well to kick up fresh powder with the board.

Ice skating – I’ve always found ice skating tougher to do than skiing, but others could have a different opinion. It’s a low-impact exercise unless you’re doing a lot of jumps, but another excellent way to build up leg muscles and exercise in a fun way.
One tip I’ve heard for beginners is to make sure you skates fit right: Most ice skates run about a size smaller than normal street shoes. It can be painful to try and use skates that are too big or small.

Ice hockey – It’s hard enough for me to try to stay up on skates, so I have not tried to ice hockey is one of the few sports I haven’t tried to play before. But if you can skate well, and like team sports, you might consider playing hockey.
Most larger communities, and some smaller ones depending on the location, offer open ice opportunities for hockey.
If you find you like it and do OK, then you could look into joining a league. Just watch out for the Hanson Brothers (sorry, a little “Slap Shot” movie joke reference).
Of course there are lots of other winter ways to get at least a little exercise, ranging from going on a walk, to sled riding, to even having a snowball fight. And there’s always curling, too, if anybody can figure out the rules to that sport.
I hope some of these tips helped some. Enjoy the cold, but try to stay warm, too.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at