by Krystal Hawks, ETC blog contributor

The winter months propose a new challenge to staying active. It’s too cold out, it gets dark too early, the holidays are coming up…but keeping your exercise regimen can mean more than just warding off winter weight gain.

Among the numerous other benefits, being physically active in the winter elevates your mood and energy levels, getting rid of all those Bah-humbug feelings! So how do you do it along with the holiday concerts, the gift shopping, and most importantly, the cookie baking?! Easy…one step at a time (duh)!

There are simple things you can implement into your day to help get you those 10,000 recommended steps.


Park farther away! Those extra steps into the grocery store aren’t going to replace your workouts, but every little bit counts, especially with all those holiday treats laying around!


Take the stairs. Get your blood pumping any way you can. The more blood-flow, the more brain-flow!


Shovel the drive the old-fashioned way. Bonus points if you can get the kids to help!


Play outside with the kids. Gear up and have a snowball fight, make snow angels, build an igloo. Not only will you get the “cool parent award,” but you’re also sneaking in some physical activity!


Play inside with the kids. Pop in one of their interactive video games, like Just Dance, and get moving! Make it a contest, worst dancer clears the dinner table!


Make it a family activity. Go ice-skating, skiing, snowboarding, or sledding. If they don’t enjoy the snow, find an indoor trampoline facility.


Don’t forget about your fur babies! I’m sure they won’t care how cold it is or how deep the snow is. If you say walk…they’re in!

As far as your exercise regimen, you can still do the same workouts you love, just switch the location! Try some fitness DVD’s. There are so many different types out there: Yoga, Pilates, Zumba…you’re guaranteed to find one you like! Check the library, Netflix, On-Demand, or YouTube!

For going outside and bearing the cold, keep some things in mind.


Materials matter! Layer on moisture-wicking fabrics that let you breathe but still keep you warm.


Don’t forget your head. Most of your body heat escapes that way, so cover it up!


Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Make sure you are drinking water before, during, and after your workout. You might not think you sweat as much in the cooler months, but you still do!


Warm-up…literally and figuratively! A 5-10 minute warm-up energizes your muscles and gets them ready for the big stuff! A warm-up slowly increases your body temperature and gets it elevated for your work-out. Bonus: A proper warm-up prevents injuries!

Working out and staying motivated is hard, especially in those bulky sweater and sweatshirt months! Focus on the bigger picture, and create SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely). Need an extra push? Start a pump-up playlist! Don’t let the snow stop you, you can do it! Involve the kids and get going, every little thing produces a big thing! At the end of the day, we are all doing our best. Don’t give up. Love yourself. And #eatthechocolate.

Krystal is an undergraduate student at Kent State University studying Nutrition and Exercise Science. She has a passion for working out and making healthier alternatives to her family’s recipes. Her ultimate career goal is to become a Sports Dietitian and show active individuals the importance of a balanced diet, that it doesn’t have to be boring, and all the benefits of well-being and health!