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In the Spotlight

Winter Exercise at Home

Keep your fitness up when temperatures drop

A Veteran and her daughter taking a walk As coronavirus cases spike around the world, we understand the temptation to hibernate this winter. But remember, exercise can lower your blood pressure, improve your mood, help you sleep better, and can even aid with pain management.

Even before COVID-19, most of us tended to slow down during the winter. But exercising is important for your overall well-being and has proven benefits. So, keep moving during cooler weather and keep track of your exercise goals in My HealtheVet with these tips:

Get started!

It doesn't matter what physical activity you select but start moving. According to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, everyone can improve their health with physical activity. You may want to check with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program if you have health concerns or chronic conditions such as asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.

Be safe in cold weather

  • Dress appropriately for the weather. Don’t forget your mask if you’re leaving the house.

  • Cover your head, neck, and face

  • Layer your clothing to protect against wind and cold

  • Use caution for outdoor activity

    • In slick conditions make sure shoes have proper traction

    • Wear sunscreen when needed, in warm or cooler weather

  • If snow or ice makes it dangerous to exercise outside, plan to work out more at home:
  • Warm up and cool down

    • If you are planning to exercise, remember to start with a warm-up

    • Cool down and stretch following your session; this lowers your risk for injury and keeps you motivated to do more

Set your exercise goal

You can set and track your exercise goals in My HealtheVet's Track Health with your Activity Journal (sign in required).

  • Exercise at least 3-5 days a week, and more often if you can

  • Aim for a total of 2½ hours each week of at least moderate intensity cardiovascular and resistance (strengthening) activity

  • Make gradual increases in physical activity part of your daily routine - little changes add up

    • Park farther away from the entrance to a store, or church and walk the extra distance

    • Take the stairs - up or down

  • Walking is simple, easy, and affordable
    • Lowest dropout rate of any physical activity

    • Simplest positive change you can make to improve your heart health

    • Walk as much as you can. Bundle up and take a walk around your neighborhood or park a little further from the grocery store. Get a buddy and walking together, but stay 6 feet apart

    • You are more likely to start and continue any program you begin with a partner

  • Exercise at home
    • Use an inexpensive set of dumbbells or resistance bands for strength training

    • Do jumping jacks, push-ups, and sit-ups - you don't need any special equipment

    • Check the TV listings for an exercise program

    • Follow a DVD or video at home

    • Use the MOVE! Weight Management Program

Those who live in warm climates have plenty of opportunities to stay active year round. However, for many of us, it requires some planning. The benefits of staying active are well worth the effort, and the healthy exercise habits you start this winter will keep you moving well through 2021.


Please vote in our unscientific poll. All responses are anonymous.

Where do you exercise during the winter?


Read More

Physical Activity Center

Exercise and Physical Activity (NIH National Institute on Aging)

Move Your Way (Department of Health and Human Services)

Your Orthopaedic Connection: Warm Up, Cool Down and Be Flexible (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons)


Updated November 9, 2020