10 Frugal Ways to get Fit this Winter


I did the unthinkable today. I willingly stood on a scale, knowing full well the number would make me squawk. And squawk I did. OK, I had a little fit too. If you’re anything like me, then you *might* just need a little nudge to remove that little extra holiday pudge. Grumble grumble.

It’s no secret that losing weight and getting fit takes effort, and it’s easy to succumb to those flashy advertisements promising you’ll drop those pounds fast just by dropping a few bucks on some product. Don’t believe the hype.

There are endless ways to get fit in the colder winter months without spending a small fortune. Chaya Cooperberg, from the fabulous Home Cents Blog, explores numerous frugal fitness methods in Getting fit on a budget.

If you’re looking for a free download, then burn some winter weight (smirk) by downloading my free eBook The Insiderโ€™s Guide To Frugal Food & Fitness! and then grab a copy of the Free Printable Workout Log. If you live in a warmer climate, then a winterized workout isn’t going to get you snow — so check out these 10 Free Ways to get into Fitness this Summer

Now lets get on with some fun ways to get frugally fit by embracing winter! No gym memberships or wallets required!

1. Go Snowshoeing

Go ahead and grab that set of snowshoes from your basement (or borrow them from a neighbor) and go for a stroll in the snow. Snowshoeing is a butt-busting workout that requires strength, agility, balance, and stamina to make it from Point A to Point B. Besides, walking in snow is hard work. I’m breaking into a sweat just thinking about. ๐Ÿ™‚

snowshoes winter fitness atlas snowshoes

Yes, you may fall on your arse. Yes, your dog may look at you funny.

snowshoes snowshoeing exercise fitness winter atlas snowshoes

But getting back on your feet and experiencing nature is most certainly a lot more fun than hitting that stair climber at the gym.

snowshoes benefits to exercise fitness dog

If you’re stuck for a pair of snowshoes, then check out your local outdoors shop for an inexpensive rental. Some stores may sell you last year’s model for cheap if you end up loving that levitating on the snow feeling.

2. Build a Snowman

Roll with it and build a snowman, a snow-woman, or a snow-gender-neutral-person in your yard. Smile. Making snow-people is a super fun activity for families so bundle up your bunch and get outside. Don’t forget to garnish Mr. Frosty with a corncob pipe, a button nose, and two eyes made out of coal.

snowman frosty the snowman snowmenPhoto: flickr/lululemonathletica CC-Attribution

OK, what the heck is a corncob pipe? I swear, I spent my youth singing that dang Frosty the Snowman song and I’ve NEVER, ever, decorated my snow-people with corncob pipes. Have you? Anyantismokingblogger, if you’ve got some really nice deep fluffy snow then try building a snow fort, a snow sculpture, or even an igloo for giggles.

3. Play Pickup Hockey

Grab a group of guys (or gals) and head outdoors for a game of hockey. A game of pickup hockey is a great way to chill with friends while getting exercise. Being a Canadian, in Canada, where hockey is a Canuck rite of passage, I’ve found games played on the street, in backyards, and on local outdoor rinks. This game can literally be played anywhere, at anytime, without a lot of equipment. Sure, you’ll need a stick, perhaps a puck or a ball, a pair of boots or skates, and some face protection for the goalie. You don’t need nets though — just grab a couple of garbage cans to mark the goal. Yes, we Canadians can rig a hockey rink out of anything, I suppose. ๐Ÿ™‚

4. Walk the Dog, Go for a Hike

If your dog is fat, it’s probably because you need more exercise — so take your mutt outside for a brisk winter walk or a hike. Walking is an ideal, frugal form of exercise since it requires zero sports equipment or athletic skill. And getting in a few paces everyday can add up to a lot of calories burned over the week.

walk exercise benefits to exercise

If you’re looking for a step in the right direction then check out this free 12 Week Beginner Walking Program. Now step to it!

5. Throw a Snowball Fight

Did a fresh snowfall just snow you in for the afternoon? Then get your family and friends outside for a group snowball fight. Nothing gets the heart rate racing like being chased by a group of snow wielding people looking to get ya good! There’s nothing wrong with being hit by a soft fluffy flier, but if the snow is hard-packing, then maybe just build a snowman instead. ๐Ÿ™‚

6. Go Skiing

Get bound in a set of bindings and head for the hills for some classic cross-country skiing, skate skiing, or even down-hill skiing. The cost of each of these options depends on how much equipment you already own.

ski areas skiing snow skiingPhoto: flickr/eivinds CC-Attribution

So if you’ve got the gear, then don’t let it go to waste in your garage. Get out and point those skis in the right direction and get fit. If you’re ski gearless (like me), then frugal options can be borrowed, rented, or bought used. Joining a local club is an excellent way to find used gear for less since many members will have upgraded over the years.

7. Slide on a Sled, Tumble on a Toboggan!

You don’t need to be kid to play in the snow. Sliding on a sled or tumbling on a toboggan can offer miles of inexpensive fitness fun on nearby snowy slopes.

toboggan sled

Sure, sliding down the hill is the easy part, but climbing UP is what gets you fit.

sled toboggan snow

Over the years I’ve managed to slide on wooden sleds, plastic toboggans, magic carpets, and flexible flyer sleds. In university, when I was young and stupid, I even managed to fly down a wicked hill on a cafeteria tray (sorry, no photos of my silliness). But yeah, if you can find a flat surface, I bet you can make it slide on the right slope.

wooden toboggan wooden sled

And kids like to slide too, so bring them along.

8. Dig Yourself Out

If you’ve got a driveway or sidewalk covered with snow, then be nice and clear your ice. Shoveling yourself out of the deep is hard physical work, so if you’re not used to heavy lifting then be easy on yourself and take your time.

dog digging snow

When the snow is too dense to dig, then get your family and neighbors to help. Many hands make light work.

9. Ice Skating

There’s nothing like gliding on a pair of skates, feeling the breeze blow in your hair, and then falling flat on your a$$. Been there, done that, and loved every minute of it.

I learned the fine art of ice skating (cough) when I lived in Ottawa, Canada’s Capital. Ottawa is home to the Rideau Canal Skateway, the world’s largest skating rink. I couldn’t have called myself a local without spending hours skating downtown, gliding to school, or stopping by the sidelines for a tasty BeaverTail — U.S. President Barack Obama approved!

But you don’t need a big canal to skate — your local rink may be perfect or an outdoor sheet of ice may be just around the slippery corner.

10. Join a Polar Bear “Swim” Club

There’s a crazy bunch of people who like to dip their dumplings in freezing lakes and waterways. Yes, these people are nuts. Yes, the gentlemen may no longer have nuts. But crazies aside, it’s kind of refreshing to take a dip in freezing waters. I’ve done it once. I’ll never do it again.

swimming swimming fully clothed polar bear swimPhoto: Diana Hodge McGregor

But swimming in frigid waters is a fun way to meet people and get fitter by trying to stay warm. Maybe.

So if you’re feeling the pinch in your jeans and you’re looking for a real way to get winter fit, then brave the cold and get outside with these frugal fitness ways. If you’d rather stay inside, then those Wii fitness games look like fun too.

UPDATE: Everyone keeps asking me about my dog’s booties. They are called Muttluks and have lasted us several seasons on the farm. Here’s a video of the booties in action!

If your pet is suffering with dry cracked paws, a good dollop of Bag Balm on the foot pads and in between the toes is super frugal, healing, and helpful too.

Your Two Cents: Got a fun and frugal way to bust the bulge and get winter fit?


  1. Trudy G January 8, 2010 at 5:21 am

    Looks like you dog really enjoys wintertime! And I loved the post!! Very entertaining list.

  2. Hayden Tompkins January 8, 2010 at 6:11 am

    First of all, you look fantastic.

    Secondly, THE TOBOGGAN LOOKS LIKE THE AWESOMEST THING EVER. I totally want one, wow!

  3. Doctor S January 8, 2010 at 6:15 am

    A few weeks ago, I got snowed in at a friends place in the suburbs of Philadelphia with 24 inches of snow. We walked 15 blocks back and forth to the bar (which had snowed in specials). The next morning, my entire body was so damn sore from just walking for a few hours in the snow. Amazing workout that offset all the beer I drank that day.

  4. marci January 8, 2010 at 8:26 am

    No snow here…. put on your barn boots and slog thru the knee high much…. great exercise for the legs!

    Put on your hip waders, bundle up, and carry a bucket and rake out to the clam beds at low tide….balance carefully on the slippery sea grasses, and don’t get stuck in the much!

    Take the chainsaw and go firewood cutting…tossing, loading, stacking, unloading, restacking…

    And the grandkids got a Wii fitness – I may try that out while babysitting ๐Ÿ™‚

    Those are some of my winter activities ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Caitlin January 8, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Wow, you dog willingly wears those booties? My parents have a dog, and he hates them! Even though the ice and salt hurt his feet, he always looks so darn dejected when he wears them.

  6. […] 10 Frugal Ways to get Fit this Winter […]

  7. dava January 8, 2010 at 10:00 am

    I have always wondered how people in Canada survive the winter–in Tennessee we are gridlocked with less than an inch of snow ๐Ÿ˜› This post is the first time I ever thought any outdoor activity in Canada in January could possibly be fun! Thanks for sharing.

  8. lorrwill January 8, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Of course none of these with the exception of the last one (and in my opinion the water is freezing even in the dead heat of summer) apply where I live. No snow.

    I do yoga and Lotte Berk. Nice simple indoor exercises. Body weight only. Quite effective and very inexpensive especially if you like to work out to DVDs that can be purchased used or checked out from the library.

    And there is always the obvs: bundle up and go for a walk!

  9. […] 10 Frugal Ways to Get Fit This Winter (seeing as we have a chance of snow here in Florida this weekend, these may actually come in handy for me! okay, I admit that I doubt I will be snowshoeing). […]

  10. Ruth January 8, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Well, here in Victoria we go for a walk on the beach this time of year since there is no snow to do all that other stuff. Living on a beautiful island in the Pacific does have its advantages. The only snow here is the snowdrops!

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  12. Hollie January 9, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Wanted to let you know I had to post a link to this great post when I was writing today about getting fit frugally.
    Thanks for all the reminders of things we can do.

  13. Four Pillars January 9, 2010 at 10:59 am

    What about various bedroom activities? That might deserve a post of it’s own! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  17. Money Funk January 10, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Problem, here in So Cal we are experiencing 70 – 80 degree weather with sun. Our winter sports are running on the beach, playing tennis, golfing on the green, etc… LOL.

    Nice list. I enjoyed the pics too. What it would be like to live in snow. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. Doctor Stock January 10, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    They all sound great except #10 – no chance I’d dive in that crazy frigid water… I prefer a warm fire.

  19. wifeish January 11, 2010 at 6:31 am

    I need to get outdoors more, which is easy here in the southwest. Our average temp. is around 50-60 degrees in the winter. Good hiking weather, but I do miss sledding.

  20. Mike January 11, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Thanks for the ideas,motivation and the great pictures!

    To help keep the pounds off check my blog with a link to The Vancouver Sun Article RATE YOUR PLATE: What’s Really On the Menu?

    It includes a link to the Fatabase Database to help you compare meals at your favorite restaurant.

    Of course the best thing to do is eat out less!

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  22. Lisa January 14, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    I have been hearing more and more about people going snowshoeing and I want to try it out so badly!! I have been keeping in shape snowboarding at night after I’m off work, that kicks my legs into shape quick and as a college student, a season pass is really affordable.

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  25. beth January 17, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Pivo says: No, I cannot put my foot down, it is keeping my tail firmly between my legs so that you can see that I am not pleased with having to wear booties. Also, I wanted the pink ones.

  26. Kerry January 17, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    @beth Oh, that’s what the tail between the legs means? ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. […] 10 Frugal Ways to get Fit this Winter @ Squawkfox – Another great post by Kerry listing some effective but inexpensive ways to exercise during the cold winter months.ย  Comes complete with pictures! […]

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  29. Geoff January 18, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Royal Canadian Airforce 5BX Fitness Plan: Developed in the 1950s – 11 mins a day, no equipment required. http://bit.ly/8CgYae

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  31. Broke by Choice January 20, 2010 at 1:39 am

    ice skating is by far my favorite. thanks for the list of ideas

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  33. Meaghan January 31, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    This is a great list. There are so many things to do to stay fit in the winter…especially if you have kids. Just bundle up and go run around with your kids in the snow. You will all have a fun time!

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  36. Rachel January 6, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I highly recommend doing squats, lunges and/or leg lifts right in front of the t.v.! Slump on the sofa as usual, but when the commercials begin, hop up and pretty much continue to so as many reps of each as you can handle. Believe me, by the time your favorite, hour long t.v.program has ended, you’ll feel the burn-and you’ll already be back in sitting position;)

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