Fun Ways to Stay Active Outside

Winter is officially here! Along with the cooler weather comes the shorter days and gloomier skies– all added up, this makes the perfect recipe to skip the gym. On top of homework, studying, staying involved, socializing, and having a job, working out doesn’t always fit into the schedule of a college student. After a year or so of prioritizing my physical activities, I think I’ve become pretty good at this whole exercise thing. 

If you’re having trouble finding the joy in working out, here are the main ways I stay physically active! 

  1. Starting with winter, because we’re in the midst of December in the lovely Minnesnowta. My favorite thing about winter is the snow, which also happens to be a common dislike. Taking a walk through the white woods is a great morning or afternoon activity. The brightness of that pure fluff makes up for the grey skies, which seems to be a recurring theme this year. Pull up your boots and strut through some parks, challenge yourself by stomping up the hills. Sometimes, when no ones around, I try to run as fast as I can by making the lightest steps as possible. This looks like high-knees and makes for a quick way to increase my heart rate. Bring your dog too, mine likes to “porpoise” through the snow, as my dad says. 

2.  My newest obsession is running in the bluffs of Winona. I started running the paved pathway around the lakes just this summer and then found my long-lost love: the trails. The bluffs in the fall are incredible! Unfortunately, I started when all the leaves already fell, but it made for a nice crunch on my every step. Running on an uneven terrain means running slower, shortening my strides, and keeping the earbuds out. I love this because of the mental release. I am not focused on burning the excessive amount of Puppy Chow I ate the night before, but I truly believe this is my most cherished time with God. I tell Him my every thought–the buildup of anxieties or the prayers I have for others. I’ve cried and laughed while running because of my heart-breaking prayers and because of the joy I feel as I see His creation surrounding me. Go out of your comfort zone and climb a tree or hike up that single-track path. 

The best part about running here is that I can lose track of time. I don’t have to complete a full circle or try to beat a time because I pick a different variation of paths every day. Explore the environment around you and find where you like to get away from the chains that hold you back in life. DO NOT say, “Oh, I’m bad at running.” You can walk, skip, jump squat, or chasse. Enough with the excuses, girl!

3. Ice skating, man! Ice skating works so many difference muscles, especially the ones in my face because of all the smiles it induces. Bonus points if you have to shovel off the pond/lake that you’re skating on (thanks, Dad!). It’s most fun to go leisure skating with friends, but if you really want a workout, force them to pass the puck while you skate backwards. Try it. 

4. Outdoor yoga. As the frozen winter melts away, take advantage of nature with mindful yoga. WSU Wifi reaches to the lakes so I follow YouTube videos (Yoga with Adriene or Caroline Williams Yoga) to make the most of my time. Stretching is so important, you guys! Being able to move our necks in a complete circle or to touch our toes will play the biggest role when we’re 60 years old with 60 sagging wrinkles on our necks alone. I’ve only done this once, but maybe this will be your new daily duty! Check out my 1-Week Yoga Challenge blogs here

5. Run through an open field. Yeah, this is probably trespassing, and we probably parked illegally along the highway. There’s no better bond than that of two friends holding hands at sunset on a random field (shouts to you, Janae!). Giggle as you skip and twirl into the orange skyline. Laughter works the abdomen better than Jillian Michaels’s 6 Week Six-Pack Abs, didn’t you know? God has blessed me with friends who aren’t concerned about my physical appearance but who take the risk of a parking violation and trespassing ticket for pretty pics and memorable moments. 

6. Welcome, summer! No more ice or frozen snot on the paved path around the lakes makes for an easy ride. This past August, Dani and I tried triking! It wasn’t as hard as the tandem, that’s for sure. Hannah and I went biking many times at the beginning of the school year too. Biking is so versatile– you can go back to the woods and mountain bike or you can stroll through the sidewalks of downtown. And, if you’re a dare-devil, you can unicycle. Talk about an ab workout! Pedal up the incline to build your quads and calves and coast downhill without hands to engage that core. 

7.  Get on the water! This isn’t as easy because it’s hard to make time to rent out water equipment just for a workout. If you spend long periods of time at your cabin, you may find that paddle boarding at sunrise is more enjoyable than your typical run. Trust me, your arms will be feelin’ the burn instead of your legs on these days. Being involved in an outdoor activity makes for a well-earned tan; get off of the beach towel! 

I tried to incorporate workouts for every season and every skill level. It just so happens that each of the listed activities are outdoors. I love to lift at the gym, especially when I’m playing music that helps me lose the stressful feelings of school or life. But being out in nature has been my recent favorite stress-reliever. Take something I shared and twist it into your own workout. Move your body naturally and take up any challenge because you love yourself, not because you’re aiming for a false standard. Get out and go!



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