Get Moving with 4 Unique Winter Sports

By on January 1, 2015

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By Vanessa Voltolina for Discover and Play

Do you always end up in the lodge, hot chocolate in hand, during winter ski trips? While curling up with a book and getting some R&R is often well deserved, there’s no reason you need to sit on the sidelines 24/7. Maybe traditional winter sports, like skiing and snowboarding, aren’t your thing. That’s ok — you may be surprised at how many unusual winter activities exist! Rethink your winter exercise with these unique and inspiring winter sport ideas, and how to make them happen in your own backyard.

1. The Polar Bear Swim
Every New Year’s Day (or some other time during the beginning of January), thrill-seeking locals from Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, South Korea and other countries get wet — and cold! They run across the sand, leap into the icy water, and swim toward the finish line as part of Polar Bear Swim competitions. The tradition is said to be more about spreading good cheer and welcoming good health in the New Year than the actual race, and the proceeds are often donated to charities.

Do It Today: This tradition might sound familiar, and it’s most popularly known as the polar bear plunge in America. So welcome in the New Year — or jazz up the doldrums of winter — by participating in one near you. (Tip: Do an online search for events in your locale.)

2. Dog Sledding (or Skijorin!)
“Mush!” Dog sledding, (also called mushing) Alaska’s official sport, involves a team of super cute huskies pulling you along for either a short sprint or a long journey. (Sled rides can range anywhere from a few minutes to multiple days.) For those heading to the most northern part of the USA, many organizations offer 11-day backpacking expeditions that combine mushing, trekking and rafting.

Do It Today: Not planning a trip to Alaska this year? That’s ok! For a snowy adventure with your own dogs, check out “skijoring” — it’s a combination of cross country skiing and dog sledding where you are pulled along on skis by your pup(s). If you’re looking for more pup playtime than competitive sport, take your pooch to a local golf course and sled down hills with him in tow (or running alongside you). We promise he’ll love you for it!

3. Ice Climbing
Besides being a diverse and beautiful country, Chile’s El Morado Glacier makes for a thrilling ice climbing trip. Yes, you read that right! Climb the hanging glacier and snap some photos while you experience breathtaking views.

Do It Today: This is certainly one for the bucket list. In the meantime, try snowshoeing. It’s not quite as daredevil-esque, but definitely a fun time. While they may make you feel silly, snowshoes — made specifically for walking in the show — distribute weight over a larger area so that you don’t sink completely into the snow “flotation.” Challenge yourself to show shoe on difficult trails and routes in a snowy place nearby.

4. Snow Tubing
So you’d rather pass on skiing or snowboarding — we hear you. How about tubing? Like sledding for the over 10 crowd, snow tubing is easy, cheap and incredibly fun. While it’s done all over the world, it’s particularly popular with our Canadian neighbors, who head to places like Rock Ridge Recreation Park in Ontario, dedicated to the sport with six tubing runs.

Do It Today: Good news: The best places to go sledding are usually also the best places to tube. Purchase your tube and try using it at your local sledding hill (safely, of course!) or conduct a search online to see if there are any dedicated slopes near you (when serviced by lifts, tubes can get much more momentum).

Vanessa Voltolina is a former online editor for NBCUniversal. Her work has appeared in several national publications, including Weight Watchers and SHAPE.

 

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Get Moving with 4 Unique Winter Sports