We all think about our swimsuit bodies come spring, but staying active and fit over the winter months can be a challenge. Frigid temperatures and snowy conditions conspire to keep many of us on the couch for months on end. 

Being less active in the winter can negatively affect your mental and physical health. Sitting too much will weaken your core muscles, causing back problems and trouble with balance. A sedentary lifestyle is also hard on your heart and can lead to rising blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Weight gain, back and neck pain, and worsening depression are just a few of the possible side effects of your three months long Netflix and chill session. 

Here are five great ways to get off the couch and stay healthy this winter.

1.Check in to Your Local Rec Center

Most towns have a recreation center that you can join for a small monthly fee. If you usually walk or jog outside to get your exercise, a rec center can be a great winter option. Most of them provide indoor running tracks in addition to a weight room, treadmills, indoor pools, and even fitness classes. 

Rec center membership fees vary, but they are usually a fraction of the cost of a private gym membership. With all the variety they offer, you will never be bored with your workout routine.

2.Take Up a Winter Sport

Downhill skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey, and basketball are all popular winter sports that can get you off the couch and burning calories.

 If you are an athletic person and don’t mind paying resort fees, downhill skiing and snowboarding are great ways to take in the beauty of nature during the winter months. They also work your abs, core, and the rest of your lower body. 

If you enjoy team sports, you might want to consider joining a community hockey or basketball team this winter. These sports won’t get you outside, but you will burn calories while socializing. A game of hockey or basketball can burn anywhere from 300 to 750 calories. 

Many people find that it is much easier to maintain an active lifestyle if they find a sport or hobby that they really enjoy, rather than just going to the gym. This winter is the perfect opportunity to try something new and find a sport to keep you active all winter long.

3.Consider an Active Winter Hobby

Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are excellent winter sports for people who don’t really like sports. You can get an intense workout without worrying about falling down a hill or taking a hockey puck to the face. 

You can rent snowshoes or cross country skis the first few times you use them to make sure it’s something you want to stick with. If you love it, you can buy your equipment. After the initial investment, these are both cheap hobbies that don’t require access to a ski resort. 

Snowshoeing requires at least ten inches of snow. Cross country skiing requires 4 to 6 inches depending on what kind of terrain is under the snow–smooth vs. uneven/rocky. As long as you have these types of snow totals, you can snowshoe or cross country ski at your local park. You might even be able to get out in your own neighborhood if your local snowplows aren’t very efficient. If you are lucky enough to have a canyon nearby, you can use your new hobby to enjoy nature. 

Snowshoeing is easy to learn and burns way more calories than running for the same amount of time. It will get your heart pumping, and you will feel the burn in your legs and core. Cross country skiing provides similar benefits and is only slightly harder to learn. You can burn between 700 and 900 calories an hour while doing either of these activities. That’ a whole Thanksgiving meal! 

These sports are also low impact and are appropriate for people with knee problems. Getting outside while also getting a workout will give your mood a boost, as well. 

4.Workout in front of the TV

If leaving the house in the winter is just not happening for you, or you feel too busy to participate in any of the above suggestions, a work out video might be your perfect match. Not all workout videos are the cheesy spandex fest you might remember from the ‘80s. Nowadays, there are workout videos to fit every need. 

If you are interested in trying yoga, you can get a beginning yoga video. Want to dance the weight off or do a crazy boot camp workout? There are videos for that too. There are even workout videos specifically for seniors and for pregnant women. 

Usually, you don’t need any specialized equipment to workout with videos. Some may require an exercise ball or exercise strap, both of which can be picked up for cheap. There are almost no barriers to entry when it comes to working out at home. Most videos have several routines for different fitness levels and for varying amounts of time. 

You can enjoy the benefits of a fitness class on your own schedule and at your own pace. Nobody will judge you if you spend a month doing the beginner routine. 

5.Play in the Snow

Remember working up a sweat building a snowman as a kid? Well, just because you’re not a kid anymore doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy playing in the snow and get a workout by doing it. Grab your friends, your significant other, or your kids and play in the snow.

 Rolling huge snowballs or making snow forts will give you a workout you’ll feel for days. Best of all, after about ten minutes you won’t even feel cold anymore. If you don’t have a back yard, you can use the snow at your local park. 

Everything about this activity will be great for your mental health. Plus, it’s a great excuse to enjoy some hot cocoa after your snowperson is complete.