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The 6 Best Winter Workouts

Woman kickboxing

Even if you enjoy jogging or playing sports when it's warm out, finding the motivation to keep up your routine in winter is a challenge. So if your instinct when it turns cold is to go into hibernation mode and stay under the covers until spring, then this list of winter workouts is for you. Each of these workouts not only delivers general benefits for your health and spirit, but also has some element that makes it especially appropriate for those long dark months of frost. And if you're one of the millions of Americans who resolve to get in shape every January, all this winter exercise makes a great addition to your new year workout plan.

1. Bikram (Hot) Yoga

What it is: Like other forms of yoga, Bikram yoga consists of a flow of postures combined with breathing exercises. The biggest difference is the room where you practice is hot as heck: the temperature usually ranges from 95° to 108° with a humidity of 40 percent. You're going to sweat. A lot.

Main benefits: All that heat has a purpose: it helps you increase your flexibility, and it means you burn more calories than other forms of yoga.

Why it's great in winter: The meditation aspect of yoga means it's particularly beneficial in the mental health department, so if you're prone to the winter blues, this one might be for you. (Spending time in a heated room in the middle of winter can feel pretty great too.)

See all yoga classes near you.

2. Kickboxing

What it is: Don't worry, you won't be taking any roundhouse kicks to the face in this class. In fact the vibe is anything but adversarial. During the workout you'll practice punches, kicks, and knee strikes in communal coordination with the rest of the class.

Main benefits: Kickboxing not only tones your upper and lower body—it also increases your confidence since it doubles as a self-defense course.

Why it's great in winter: Are you always cold, no matter where you are or how many layers you're wearing? You could have poor blood circulation. A cardio-intensive class like kickboxing gets your heart pumping, and may improve circulation throughout your body.

See all boxing and kickboxing classes near you.

 

People doing Zumba

3. Zumba

What it is: Picture this. You're at a bar that plays the best music on a Saturday night. What do you do? You dance. Now subtract the drink in hand and factor in sensible shoes. That's Zumba. It's a workout that feels more like a salsa dance party, but with all of the health benefits.

Main benefits: Zumba is a great way to get your cardio in, but it also can strengthen your core, improve flexibility, and even improve your rhythm.

Why it's great in winter: If your social life slows down in January and February as people hole up in their homes to wait out the cold, Zumba can give you a dose of the fun party atmosphere you're missing. It can even be an excuse to get together with friends to do something you might be too shy to try alone.

See all Zumba classes near you.

4. Indoor Cycling

What it is: The energy level is as high as it gets at indoor cycling classes, thanks to the up-tempo tunes and the instructor whose sole job is keep you pumping those pedals. You'll sweat your brains out, you'll want to quit, and you'll be glad you didn't.

Main benefits: Cardio, cardio, cardio. You'll also build muscle endurance, without putting too much strain on your joints. (It's great for people recovering from injuries.)

Why it's great in winter: Maybe you're already into cycling, but you don't love getting bundled up just to get some exercise—or you don't feel safe on snowy, icy streets. Indoor cycling solves both problems.

See all cycling classes near you.

People doing Pilates

5. Pilates

What it is: Cardio not your thing? No worries. Pilates is a little more intense than yoga but not as exhausting as kickboxing. During class you'll work out your body's core, including abs, obliques, and thighs, with or without the help of special equipment like the spring-loaded Reformer machine.

Main benefits: Pilates emphasizes good form instead of burning calories (though it does that too). It's like a combination of all the exercise your body needs: strength, flexibility, endurance, coordination, balance, and good posture.

Why it's great in winter: It's easy to let your posture slip when you're spending cold nights slumped under blankets on the couch. Pilates helps correct spine alignment, which can reduce back pain.

See all Pilates classes near you.

6. Swimming

What it is: In contrast with the other activities on this list, swimming is often a solitary workout. That makes it versatile, since you can do it any time your pool is open and for as long or as short as you like. You might think swimming laps would get repetitive, but the variety of strokes you can master keeps it fresh.

Main benefits: Perhaps no other form of exercise works your full body as effectively with as little impact on your joints. It's an ideal workout for people with injuries, arthritis, and disabilities, though anyone with a heart and/or lungs can benefit.

Why it's great in winter: Every time you put on a swimsuit you remember summer is a thing that exists.

See all swimming classes near you.

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