Woman running on a snowy park path

5 ways to stay active in the city during winter

As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, you may start to feel like you’re stuck in the city – but you don’t have to let the winter blues drag you down. During the cold, wet, snowy months, you can stay active by taking advantage of what your city has to offer. Here are some activities you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you get moving even when there’s frost on the ground.

Winter cycling

Man biking on city streets with snow on the ground

Many riders put their bikes away at the first sign of winter, but you can still hit the road when it’s chilly outside. You don’t necessarily need a fat bike to enjoy winter cycling, but you also may not want your main bike to risk some wear and tear (road salt, grime and ice can be tough on your ride). If that’s the case, go for an old mountain bike instead – check the MEC Gear Swap for second-hand options – and remember to wipe down your bike and keep it clean after rides. Leave the tire pressure low to maintain traction, and if you live in a city that’s prone to icy conditions like Toronto, you can invest in studded tires to give you even more grip on your route.

Whether you live on the east coast or the west coast, you’ll need to dress in layers. Start with a warm base layer and add more depending on the temperature to ensure you stay comfortable and your muscles stay loose. Just make sure that you don’t feel too warm before you start riding, or you’ll end up overheated.

For more info on how to prep your bike (and yourself), for cold months, check out our tips for winter biking.

Winter running

Just because the temperature has dropped doesn’t mean you have to stick to a treadmill. A brisk run on snow or pavement is a great way to get fresh air (be careful with icy conditions, though). As with cycling, you’ll need to dress in layers. Since the sun sets so early in winter, invest in some reflective clothing – there are even some that have stealth reflection built in, like the MEC Tempo Reflect or Fury jackets – and a headlamp to stay visible.

You’ll also want waterproof running shoes that are sturdy enough to handle slippery terrain. For added traction, you can even attach something like Yaktrax or other running spikes.

Need an extra source of motivation to keep you running through the winter season? Sign up for the MEC Race Series and set up your calendar with goals all year long.


If you’re looking for a group activity, or something fun to do on the weekend, give geocaching a try. You’ll put your detective skills to the test by looking for special containers with treasures (known as “geocaches”) hidden at different locations marked by GPS coordinates. You can visit geocaching.com to start your search – all you’ll need is a GPS device, some warm clothing and a buddy to tag along.

Indoor climbing or bouldering

Woman bouldering indoors

The weather might force your fitness routine indoors, but that doesn’t mean it can’t stay interesting. Bouldering is a great activity – it’s a type of indoor rock climbing, but without ropes or harnesses. You’ll build your strength, endurance and problem-solving skills, as each wall offers routes that are like a puzzle for you to solve. Find the solution, and work on stretching and strengthening as you try to make it to the top.

New to rock climbing? Start off with an intro course at a climbing gym, which will help you familiarize yourself with the skills needed to safely belay your partner. You can even rent climbing shoes and a harness until you decide whether you want to keep at it all winter long. If you’re looking for more helpful tips, check out 15 things I wish I knew before I started climbing.

Circus school… or 103 other fun things

If you still feel limited by your typical winter options, why not tackle an exciting new challenge – like classes at a circus school! Develop your flexibility and muscle strength, as you learn how to tumble and perform on the trapeze. There are circus schools all over Canada, including the Vancouver Circus School, the Toronto Circus School and the Le CirQus in Montreal. Classes are offered for all ages and levels, so no experience is required. All you need to bring is a comfortable outfit and an open mind. All that balancing and flexibility practice will likely come in handy for your summer activities, too.

Want more winter ideas? Check out 103 ways to make this your best winter ever for tons more inspiration. Just because the bears are hibernating doesn’t mean you have to do the same, so get outside and enjoy the beauty of a snow-covered city.

Photo credits: Maridav / Shutterstock.com, Tejvan Pettinger, Poprotskiy Alexey / Shutterstock.com

Joanie Gaudreau

Writer and fitness enthusiast always chasing her next mountain peak. Also coffee. She chases coffee, too.