Low-impact winter sports to keep you active this season

Woman playing in the snow with snowshoes on
Photo by Annette Shaff/Shutterstock

Even if you want to stay inside and hunker down with a good book all winter, it’s important to keep active. Not only will it improve your mood and help you stave off the winter blues, but it will also help boost your immune system during flu season, and keep you limber during weather conditions that can otherwise cause your joints to stiffen. But if you’re worried about the stress that winter activities like downhill skiing or jogging can have on your body, here are a few other fun, low-impact options to keep you going this winter.


People snowshoeing

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If you want to increase your heart rate, snowshoeing will provide you with the same aerobic workout that you can get from hiking in the summer. But snowshoeing is even more low-impact than simply walking. Because the snow provides a natural cushion, absorbing the many shocks and bumps that you’d normally encounter along a trail, snowshoeing tends to be fairly easy on the knees. To top it off, it’s also incredibly accessible. You only need to buy (or rent) one piece of gear, and it can be done almost anywhere—from small, urban parks to long-distance trails through the forest.

Ice skating

Ice skating

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Whether it’s on a shovelled pond outside your cottage or indoors at the local arena, ice skating is an excellent way to embrace the winter season and get a little exercise. Engaging in a gliding motion on an elliptical machine is better for your joints than running along a treadmill, and the same goes for gliding along the ice. But skating isn’t just a low-impact way to burn calories, it also helps improve your balance and coordination. Plus, working out those small stabilizer muscles will really come in handy for future workouts, especially if you practice yoga or pilates.

Cross-country skiing

Woman cross-country skiing

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Like skating, the fact that you’re moving in a gliding motion makes cross-country skiing relatively easy on your joints. It’s also an incredible workout, with as much calorie-burning potential as you can get from running. To propel yourself forward on cross-country skis your whole body has to be moving in sync, which is why the sport also increases your cardiovascular output, improves endurance, and targets just about every muscle in your body. But winter sports aren’t all about the workout—you want to enjoy some of the scenery too, and on cross-country skis you can explore many of the same snowy trails that you can on snowshoes.

Fat biking

Fat biking in winter

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According to experts, cycling is one of the best low-impact cardio workouts you can do. But if it’s too snowy to pull out your usual bike and you’re itching to get outdoors, why not try a Fat Bike. These off-road bicycles are built with oversized tires so that they can ride through unstable terrain like mud, sand, and snow, which means you can take them just about anywhere, including cross-country ski trails. It’s become such a trend as of late that some resorts are even promoting their cross-country ski trails for the sport. That being said, always check regulations first—some might be leery of having the big-wheeled bikes on more crowded paths.

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