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Stay Active with These 5 Winter Sports In and Around Philly

When you think of winter, you’re probably imagining heavy coats, hot chocolate and spending time with family. And while it’s true that Philly winters can get pretty cold, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to be outdoors — and get a good workout in the process.

We’ve put together some ideas to get your heart pumping during the winter months.


Whether you’re an experienced pro or an amateur just learning the ropes, skiing is a great equalizer that also happens to be an excellent workout.

When skiing, you primarily use your “prime movers” — your thighs, legs, feet and hips. More specifically, you’ll activate your quads, flex your hamstrings and use your feet and ankles to turn left and right. You’ll even get a core workout — it acts as a stabilizer. Even better: there are plenty of places around Philly to shred some snow, so you can choose the best fit and get going.

Ice Skating

There are great cardiovascular benefits to ice skating — for one thing, you’re training your aerobic system — which means “with air,” or when your body produces energy by using oxygen — and your anaerobic system, or “without air,” when your body produces energy without using oxygen, instead relying on stored energy sources.

Ice skating also requires total body movement not only to get around but also to stay balanced. It helps work your core muscles and posterior chain. The posterior chain refers to our glutes, hamstrings and lower back muscles. Strengthening these areas can help improve posture, reduce lower back pain and provide an overall boost in athletic performance.

In Philly, ice skating means heading to Winterfest on the waterfront, where you can also refuel with food and drink, warm up in a cabin and take in views of the Delaware River.


When it comes to getting a workout in the winter, sledding may not be top of mind. But when you’re sledding, you can’t go down a hill without climbing up one first. Walking up medium-height hills is an aerobic exercise that helps strengthen your leg muscles, and even when you make your way downhill, you’ll use multiple muscle groups to steer.

Even better, there are plenty of places in Philly to dig those legs in and feel the need for speed. File them away for your next snow day.


Going on a hike in normal conditions can be strenuous, and when you add snow, it becomes a top-notch workout that will get your heart rate up. If you’re going snowshoeing, you should first be sure that you’re on a safe trail. You’ll also need the proper equipment — snowshoes, of course, as well as thermal wear to stay warm.

Snowshoeing gets your heart pumping, which in turn accelerates flow to your lungs and muscles. Aerobic activity is a way to increase oxygen and teach your body how to be more efficient with each workout.

There’s also the added benefit of great scenery around you — in Philly, you have options like the Wissahickon Trail to take in the sights.

Snow Shoveling

Anyone who’s lived through a Philly winter knows that shoveling snow can be taxing. It’s a full body workout — you’ll use your chest, upper back, glutes and legs heavily to clear a path. Snow shoveling has been proven to be equivalent to running on a treadmill, so you’ll also be working your muscles and getting some cardio in the process.

A tip: when snow shoveling, know your body’s limits, and if you have a heart condition, it might not be the best activity to do for long periods of time.