8 indoor exercises to stay healthy during winter

During cold weather, it can be extremely hard to stay active for the majority of us. It is tempting to just curl up on the bed, keeping your body warm and relaxed. However, winter is also the time with a high number of colds and cases of flu. Plus, the back-to-back celebrations during holidays can make you gain weight and lose sight of your health. As going outside to do activities or working out in the gym are not typically ideal scenarios, the only solution is doing indoor exercises which are safe and convenient for you.

Indoor exercises during winter 

The winter season can make it harder to follow your usual fitness routine due to several reasons, such as difficulty in going out to use equipment at the gym, getting sweaty due to chilly weather and finding the right mood to exercise. The shorter, darker days can make some people feel down and depressed, which is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or commonly called winter blues [1]. This condition may affect one’s motivation towards eating and exercising. 

As the upper body tends to accumulate more fat, many people with excess weight may acquire belly fat that makes them conscious about their shape. Indoor exercises can be an excellent alternative to outdoor exercises that can still give you similar results in removing belly fat. The idea is to set up a space in your home to do your workout routine with minimal equipment and more motion. It can be pretty flexible and effective for most people as they can start their exercise without much effort.

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8 indoor exercises to try even at home

1. Jumping rope

Jumping rope is quite basic and easy to do anywhere, but still effective in losing weight. As it works practically all of your body’s muscles and constitutes a full-body workout, jumping rope can burn calories and decrease excess weight. The best part is you don’t need any fancy equipment to keep your heart rate up and blood flowing during the winter season. Plus, it takes up very little space. 

To start jumping rope, you can do at least five minutes for the first few days or in a week. Then, you can gradually increase the length of the time up to 20 minutes a day. However, don’t forget to stretch and warm up a few minutes before doing this to avoid leg cramps.

Jumping rope

2. Burpees

Here’s another ultimate fat and calorie burner indoor exercise. Burpees is all about full-body callisthenics, aiming to build muscle strength, endurance and stamina in both your lower and upper body. More particularly, it targets the muscles in the arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, hips, buttocks and legs. In fact, this can be considered more effective than running outside. You can do burpees on the floor conveniently for about 15 to 20 minutes. Do this consistently to see results in weight loss. 

3. Mountain climbers exercise

You don’t really have to go out and mountain climb. You only need to imagine and do the position! To do the mountain climbers exercise, imagine the floor as a mountain, position yourself into a plank posture and run with your hands straight in front of you against the floor. This workout can be intense; hence, you can start slowly and pick up the pace a little to strengthen your core. It can lead to a flat stomach if done consistently. 

The mountain climbers exercise may seem simple, but it is a great indoor exercise to increase your heart rate and burn calories. Aside from abs, it also targets your shoulders, arms, chest and legs. 

4. Jumping squats

Jumping squats is an intense indoor exercise that can surely make you sweat during winter. It is the most popular squat type for a reason: dual purpose. It can aid in increasing strength and endurance and promote weight loss at the same time. 

To do jumping squats, start by entering a half-squat position with your legs shoulder-width apart. You must ensure that your butt is out and your back is fully straight. Then, hop a short distance before landing back in the squat position. 

5. Stair climbing

If you have stairs at home, stair climbing may be a good idea. It is one of the recommended and easiest indoor activities you can do to stay active and lose weight even during winter. Climbing stairs can help in engaging your core and muscles while also controlling the increasing waist size. You can improve your body’s flexibility, coordination and balance by climbing stairs. In fact, people who climb stairs regularly burn calories compared to those who don’t [2].

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6. Pilates and yoga

Not all exercises for weight loss are intense; some are soothing, like yoga. It is a relaxing physical activity you can do during winter, as it can be done in your bedroom, living room or just about anywhere inside your house. You can do yoga in the morning to help your body wake up and warm up for the day. There are beginner-level classes you can find online that you may follow step by step. The yoga classes guide you to properly do the poses and meditation. 

During colder months of the year, many of us spend more time sitting indoors, which can tighten hip flexor muscles or hamstrings. Pilates and yoga can do the trick in promoting strength, mobility and flexibility to counteract all of the immobility. These indoor-friendly activities both have strengthening components to help prepare your body for unexpected jerks and twists that may happen with those winter sports.

Pilates and yoga

7. Kick and punch

Kickboxing can strengthen your upper and lower body with its combined motion of karate-style kicking and boxing punches. It also has excellent weight loss potential as it can burn around 720 calories per hour, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center [3]. In fact, one study proved that kickboxing could build upper-body muscle strength, aerobic conditioning, flexibility, speed and agility by doing it for five weeks and three times per week [4]. 

8. Lace up your skates

Roller skating isn’t just for kids; it’s for adults as well. It may be too cold to skate outside, but you can always roller skate inside your house. It basically tones your legs, core and butt, along with smaller, stabilising muscles that help with balance and coordination. At a moderate pace, roller skating can burn around 500 calories per hour while having fun.  

Staying fit in the winter season

To maintain a healthy and active body during winter, the American Heart Association suggests doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, on a weekly basis [5]. Staying active is necessary for your cardiovascular health. 

Moreover, if you take a break from your workout routine, there are several major backlashes that you may experience. According to research, there is about 20 percent decrease in cardiopulmonary fitness within only three to eight weeks of inactivity. Plus, your progress and improvements may be wasted as the researchers found significant loss. For three to six months of not exercising, your body may resort back to the “couch potato” fitness level [6]. Getting back to your shape again can be hard when you entirely diminish your workout routine.

Research also suggests that continually exercising within a year gives positive mood enhancement, better sleep, weight control, more energy, less stress and a lower chance of depression. Exercising during winter is technically not only about staying fit physically but also mentally because it will make you happy scientifically [7]. 

Indoor exercises and longevity 

The link between fitness and longevity is quite close–the fitter and healthier you are, the longer your lifespan will be. A well-taken-care body can fight any diseases in the environment and boost its immune system, especially during the winter season when bugs and viruses can be easily contracted anywhere. Indoor exercises can help in keeping your body on track physically by reducing your risk of having a viral infection as it fights off foreign invaders and their nasty symptoms.

Furthermore, around 110,000 deaths in the U.S. can be prevented if adults who are 40 years old and above slightly increased their moderate to vigorous physical activity. An additional ten-minute physical activity per day can make a difference [8]. Simple walking can also lower the risk of premature death from all causes. The risk of premature death can be lessened by doing about 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day for adults younger than 60 and 6,000 to 8,000 steps per day for adults 60 and older.

Healthy longevity does not only include good physical health but mental health as well. The World Health Organisation emphasised that people with severe mental health disorders reduce their life expectancy by 10 to 25 years. Hence, you should also take care of your mental state during the winter time. Doing indoor exercises helps in releasing endorphins to remove winter blues and boost your mood. A study has shown that doing a great workout routine can be up to four times more effective than taking anti-depressants in enhancing the symptoms of depression; hence, exercise can definitely serve as a mood booster.

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[1] https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/cold-weather-cautions
[2] https://www.healthshots.com/fitness/weight-loss/5-indoor-exercises-to-lose-belly-fat-in-winter/ 
[3] https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4187584/ 
[5] https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults 
[6] https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/to-maintain-your-health-and-fitness-dont-take-a-winter-break-from-exercise
[7] https://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/2020/12/21/why-you-shouldnt-take-a-winter-break-from-exercise/ 
[8] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2788473 

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