Winter walking alternatives

Four fun ways to stay fit when it’s cold outside

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Growing tired of the same old routine? Here are four fun walking alternatives — including two indoor options — for keeping active all winter long.

Tobogganing
Keep a consistent pace and you can turn tobogganing into a fitness-boosting interval workout. Walking up the hill will get your heart pumping. (Extra points if you pull the weight of your kids in the sled behind you.) Then take a quick rest at the top before dashing downhill again. As with any workout, remember to stay hydrated. “Whenever I go tobogganing, I leave a water bottle at the top of the hill,” says Cat Smiley, a fitness and weight-loss expert in Whistler, B.C. “That way, I’m motivated to get up there and quench my thirst.”

Why it complements walking: Hiking uphill conditions your heart and lungs and strengthens the leg and butt muscles needed to be a strong walker.

Snowshoeing
“If you can walk, you can snowshoe,” says Smiley. It’s one of the easiest winter activities to learn.” Plus, like walking, it’s low-impact. “The snow also acts as a cushion,” she says. Snowshoes cost around $180; if you just want to try it out, rent them for a day from a ski-supply store.
To make the most of snowshoeing, take care not to point your toes out when you walk, which can make you step on your back shoe with your front one. The result: “You’ll wind up in the snow,” says Smiley. Practise walking in snowshoes in your basement or on pavement first.

Why it complements walking: Snowshoeing uses many of the same muscles as regular walking, and it’s intense enough to melt more calories.

Walking DVDs
Stay sheltered from the cold and in shape with a fitness walking DVD. Be prepared to do more than just march in place, though. The best walking-inspired DVDs also motivate you to try basic moves like knee lifts and work out at a pace that’s equivalent to walking four to five miles per hour.
Two to try: Walk at Home: Walk Your Belly Flat ($15) and 5K With a Twist ($15), both by walk-at-home expert Leslie Sansone.

Why it complements walking: Walking DVDs follow two major tenets of regular walking: They’re low-impact and easy.

Treadmill walking
On a treadmill, says Smiley, “you can gain the confidence you need to increase your heart rate because there are no obstacles such as ice, snow and traffic.” So don’t get lulled into complacency while walking in front of the tube; challenge yourself regularly by upping your speed and incline.

Why it complements (outdoor) walking: A treadmill helps you maintain – or even gain fitness – so you’re sure to be in top walking shape when the winter freeze ends.

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