The funny thing about New Year’s fitness resolutions for us here in the Northern Hemisphere is that January coincides with the chilly winds of winter. A season of staring at the walls from the treadmill at our local gym doesn’t necessarily sound appealing, but other than a Netflix marathon, how is one to get fit during the cold, short days of winter? The answer is actually pretty simple: Get outside! Now hear us out, we’re not recommending being cold just for the sake of getting some fresh air. We’re recommending heart-pumping, fun ways to burn some calories, explore the great outdoors, and stay warm this winter. Take the lead from some of the country’s coziest winter wonderlands, and learn to embrace even the coldest days this season with outdoor activities that combine exercise and adventure.
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
Closest InTown Suites: Salt Lake City South (ZSU) Extended Stay
The 2002 Winter Olympics may have sealed Salt Lake’s fate as a favorite winter vacation destination, but locals have long embraced the white chill of this mountain framed city. A natural playground no matter what time of the year, winter brings a host of fantastic ways to explore the sites, attractions, and sheer beauty of Utah’s wilderness.
Riding around on a machine in the snow as exercise—really?! Yes! It’s true, you can bomb around the backcountry of Park City, Utah and get your fitness on at the same time with a custom snowmobiling tour from Backcountry Snow. In addition to being a thrilling way to explore Utah’s dense forests, snowmobiling helps build your core strength by requiring both muscle and flexibility to maneuver your rig through deep drifts of snow. The best part? You can soak up that precious and fleeting Vitamin D, benefitting not only your physical health but your mental health as well.
Sure, there’s plenty of downhill slopes near Salt Lake, but cross-country skiing is an easy, all-ages activity that lets you slow down and take in the beauty of Utah’s snow-covered hills. A great cardio workout, cross-country skiing employs a lot of upward propulsion giving your upper body a thorough workout and burning anywhere from 400-700 calories an hour. Millcreek Canyon is both the perfect setting to explore the area’s extensive cross-country trail system and a birder’s paradise. Spy a great selection of Northern Pygmy-Owl, Northern Saw-Whet Owl, and Great Horned Owl from the Canyon’s vast valley, or head to higher ground to take in lake views.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
We admit we need a little bit of an incentive to get out and brave the chilly weather for a walk. Luckily, the Midway Ice Castles are that perfect excuse. Get some much needed fresh air and stretch your legs while taking in the gorgeous sight of ice castles and sculptures illuminated by colorful up lighting. Even little ones won’t mind the chilly temperatures with appearances by Elsa and Anna from Frozen and entertaining performances that include fire eaters, hula-hoopers, and more. The bonus? Wandering around in colder temperatures with heavy winter layers on helps burn even more calories as your body works to keep itself warm. Once you’ve completed your tour of this winter wonderland, treat yourself to a hot chocolate—you’ve earned it.
Nearest InTown Suites: Denver West (ZSC) Extended Stay
Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Denver is practically synonymous with winter. Just a couple of hours from Colorado’s Front Range ski areas like Winter Park and Vail, Denver offers winter activities in spades. You don’t need to strap on skis to get the most out of Denver this season though, there are tons of unique and exciting ways to get outdoors and work on that beach bod.
Warm weather hiking gives way to cold weather snowshoeing in Colorado. Burning more calories than running, snowshoeing builds strength, agility, balance, and endurance. Luckily, it’s also a relatively low-cost activity. Join a free tour of Copper Mountain and explore the quaint alpine town and surrounding trail at a fraction of the price of snowboarding or skiing. Pro tip: Increase the intensity of your workout by using poles to work your upper body.
Yep, you read that right! You don’t have to travel to Alaska to experience this rugged outdoor sport. Head to Alpine Adventures Dogsledding in Leadville to meet your furry teammates in the kennels and learn about their rigorous training before embarking on your group tour. Between playing with puppies and all that mushing, this once in a lifetime, hour and 20-minute-long excursion will torch a whopping 1,500 plus calories!
Ice skating isn’t unique to the Rocky Mountain State by any stretch, but it sure does offer some of the most picturesque places to practice that triple-sow-cow. The Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park is a beautiful place to work up a sweat, with its twinkling overhead lights, Friday night DJs, and family entertainment on Sundays. The best part? Free entry and cheap ice skate rentals let you burn over 400 calories without a gym membership.