GUEST POST: Wintertime Exercise without Spending a Fortune

Why does exercise, which is so good for our health and improves our mood, not to mention builds killer muscles, have to cost so much? Wintertime exercise expenses can quickly skyrocket, but a bit of careful swapping allows us to stay fit all winter, have fun, and still have money left over for post-exercise celebrations.

I added up everything I spent in 2012 for exercise including race registrations (I like to run trail and road races and love triathlons), shoes, clothing, gym membership, and bike repairs and came up with a grand total of $3000.

Here’s the Goldilocks question: Is that amount too much, too little, or just right?

The answer depends on the type of exercise you enjoy and the depth of your bank account. A downhill skier friend spent $1200 on a season’s pass to her favorite mountain, plus $400.00 on new skis and bindings. Another friend who prefers hiking to skiing bought a new pair of hiking boots for $140. Both are happy with the amount they spent on their favorite type of exercise.

Instead of downhill skiing or snowboarding:

Try snowshoeing. A new pair of snowshoes costs less than $150, and you can wear boots and clothing you already own–plus no lift fees. Tromping through deep snow provides a far better aerobic workout than swooshing down the slopes.

Go sledding. A new sled costs less than $20 and will last all season. Or spend no money and sled in a cardboard box. We used to sled down the hills on campus using the trays from the dining hall. Plus trudging back up the hill builds killer quads and calf muscles without spending hours in the gym.

Instead of a gym membership:

Making snowmen is not just for kids! Build muscle strength and endurance by making snowmen or building a snow fort. Instead of running endlessly on a treadmill at the gym, challenge your kids to a snowball fight and chase each other around the yard for 30 minutes.

Offer to shovel your neighbors’ sidewalks for an aerobic workout that also builds muscle strength.

Instead of hiring a personal trainer:

Join a free website and use their vast exercise library to get an intense workout at home.

Choose from thousands of free apps and take your personal trainer with you wherever you go. No excuses for skipping exercise!

Instead of joining a Pilates or yoga studio:

Libraries offer a wide variety of exercise DVDs on loan, ranging from old favorites like Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda to the hottest new instructors.

Google “free yoga” (256,000,000 hits) or “free Pilates” (43,700,000 hits) and you can do a different routine every day all winter long.

You’ll not only save on the membership fees, but you won’t need to buy special clothing either. Workout in your PJs if you want!

More wintertime exercise tips:

I live in snowy and cold New England, and asked several of my friends how they save money and stay fit during the long winter months:

Meg likes to pack a lunch and go for a hike with the dogs. If there’s enough snow, she straps on snowshoes.

Mary enjoys nighttime walks with the stars overhead and the promise of hot chocolate waiting for her afterwards.

Kathryn takes her young sons on birdwatching walks.

The local fire department floods a paved ‘ice rink’ in the town park; families ice skate there for free whenever the weather is cold enough.

With a bit of imagination and a sense of fun, you’ll find even more ways to exercise for little to no money this winter. I like to trade my running shoes for snowshoes whenever possible.


Lynn Grieger is a contributor to Everyday Health Calorie Counter, focusing on exercise and healthy living. She loves to stay active and test out new fitness routines.

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  1. I just got back from vacation where I gained 8 pounds in 8 days. How is that possible? I really need to break out the exercise videos!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Debt: 4 Reasons to Leave Debt Behind TodayMy Profile

  2. I do a lot of body weight exercises. Push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, etc. If you get online and find some workouts on to do you can stay fit without the gym. I’ve spent a total of $100 this year on workout stuff. Search Craigslist for workout equipment. You can probably get a treadmill or stationary bike for cheap in the next couple months when people realize that they AREN’T going to stick with their resolution :).

  3. Living in CA, I’m spoiled and I know it. I love running, when my body permits. I do boot camp because it really pushes me. We can exercise year-round outside which I really love.
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  4. I usually go cross country skiing during the winter, and often go for long walks. Icy roads and snow are no objects!:-)
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  5. I go snowboarding :) But, I have a 3 visit pass for $75. I also go free a lot! Hiking during work-the foothills are 10 minutes from my job. Riding my bike rocks , or I go to Corepower yoga (Colorado Company) that has free community classes

  6. There are indeed a lot of ways to exercise without having to spend too much. We just have to be creative and resourceful. Thanks for the tips.
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