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December 12, 2016

4 Great Winter Activities to Try Nearby

by Amanda MacMillan

Winter weather may make you want to curl up under a blanket and binge-watch Netflix until March, but it’s still important -- maybe extra important -- to stay active as the temperature drops.

“Your mood and energy levels can be affected by shortened daylight hours,” says Russell Camhi, DO, a primary care and sports medicine physician at Northwell Health Orthopaedic Institute. “Getting outside and getting some fresh air and sunlight can be a good way to beat those winter blues, and also fend off weight gain that tends to happen around the holiday season.”

As luck would have it, winter is also a great time to try a new sport, or indulge in some seasonal favorites. Here are four activities that can add some fun (and fitness!) to these cold-weather months -- and where to try them nearby.

Downhill skiing or snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding may not get you out of breath like running does, but they’re "deceivingly good exercises" that work your legs, quads, glutes and core, says Dr. Camhi. In other words, they’re probably the most fun you can have while doing squats!

Try it: Thunder Ridge Ski Area, just 60 minutes from New York City in Patterson, New York, offers rentals, lessons, and 22 trails for the whole family to enjoy.

Cross-country skiing

Also known as touring, cross-country skiing is terrific aerobic exercise that provides a full-body workout, Dr. Camhi says. “You have to use your hands and arms as well as your legs; you can’t just glide along.” In fact, an hour of cross-country skiing at a brisk (10-minute-mile) pace will burn nearly 900 calories!

Try it: Fahnestock Winter Park in Carmel, New York, offers rentals and more than 10 miles of groomed trails. (There’s a ski lodge and an outdoor fireplace for relaxing afterward, too.)


For people who love to walk or hike, snowshoeing can be a great way to keep up those workouts when there’s powder on the ground. “It’s easy to learn and it’s low-impact, so it can be great exercise even for people who may be older or have arthritis,” says Dr. Camhi. “Plus, snowshoes help you walk farther in the snow, so you can explore places you may not have been able to get to otherwise.”

Try it: The Quogue Wildlife Refuge in Suffolk County, Long Island, lends out snowshoes for use on its grounds as a free benefit to its members.

Ice skating

What could be more fun than a family outing to your local ice rink? “It’s a great way to get kids, and people of all ages, doing something active together,” says Dr. Camhi. Ice skating also works your core muscles and improves your balance, he adds -- both important components in physical fitness.

Try it: You can pick your pleasure! In New York City, check out the famous Rockefeller Center rink, or visit city-run rinks in Central Park, Bryant Park, Prospect Park (Brooklyn), Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (Queens) or Clove Lakes Park (Staten Island).