Can’t Run Outside? Try These Winter Workout Alternatives, Instead.

When the winter weather gets dreary, try any one of these workout alternatives to stay active.

I used to think it was wimpy to avoid running outdoors throughout the Midwestern winter—at least, I did until I slipped on a sheet of ice and endured some seriously painful bruising.

Since then, I’ve adapted a more flexible mindset. The truth is, running in extremely frigid temperatures can be dangerous, particularly if there is rain, ice or darkness involved. If you’re like me, you don’t want to just sit inside all day, wishing for some sunshine. Thankfully, you don’t have to. There are plenty of ways to gain fitness when the great outdoors isn’t cooperating with your training.

4 Winter Workout Alternatives You’ve Got To Try

If you have access to a flight of stairs…

Try running the steps! This seemingly simple workout is a great way to challenge your quad and glute muscles. Find some stairs—your home, apartment or gym stairs would all work—and run up the flight as fast as you can. Walk or jog down. Then, repeat the set by sprinting back up again. See how many flights of stairs you can do without taking a break.

If you’re stuck at home…

I recommend investing in some light, eight- to 15-pound weights for situations like these. Nevertheless, you can still get a great workout in without any weights. Apps like Nike Training Club provide stripped-down workouts that you can select based on difficulty. Don’t want to use your phone? Just repeat sets of jumping jacks, bridges and pushups. For more upper body work, search for some heavy household objects. I’ve been known to use a massive coffee table book for squats and balancing exercises.

If you’re buried under a fresh blanket of snow…

Get outside and shovel the driveway. Better yet: Shovel your neighbor’s driveway while you’re at it. Your arms will get a great workout and you’ll be helping someone else out! If you don’t have a driveway to shovel, you likely live in the city or in an apartment complex. In that case someone else has likely salted or shoveled a little bit, so you can get outside and either walk around or help in the shoveling efforts.

If your legs are a bit tired or sore…

Take this as your cue to give your body some TLC. Spend time stretching, using a muscle roller if you have one. If you want to get out and move a little, drive to the mall or to a large marketplace (like Costco or Ikea). Walking around will help loosen up your muscles and help your rest day be even more beneficial. If the thought of not running gives you anxiety, remember that one day will not make or break your training. Allowing your body to rest could even be the extra boost it needs to nail that next hard workout or long run.

Winter weather can be grueling, but it gives a runner the chance to stretch, strengthen and engage other muscles that might get overlooked on a regular basis. The next time the weather alerts come in, think creatively about how you can use the change in routine to supplement (not sidetrack) your training.