How to Get 20,000 Daily Steps in the Winter Without a Treadmill

I hate treadmills. They make me feel bad. And, I don’t mean physically…although, that momentary disorientation right after I get off is a little weird. I hate that treadmills make me feel like a wimp. I simply don’t have the self-discipline to finish a workout. I’m too bored to stay on till the end so I bail.

Like a wimp.

I just finished Week 23 of this 20k One Year Step Challenge. (I post a daily update HERE) My goal is at least 20,000 steps every day for a year. No breaks. Now that we are in the slog of winter, people assume that many of these steps are happening on a treadmill. Nope. Not a single one.

To be clear…I don’t think treadmills are for wimps. Just the opposite. I admire those who can stay committed and fight through the boredom of a workout on these torture machines. My sister gets most of her steps on one. My wife will run many miles on a treadmill when the pavement outside is icy.

I don’t have the inner-strength to make that happen. I bail before I reach my goal.

Just like a wimp.

So, when the weather is frightful, how do I reach my 20,000 steps without a treadmill?

Daily Habits

This is the where more than half my steps come from regardless of the weather. Over the years I have found ways to exchange habits of sitting for habits of moving. And, these are all inside steps. If I don’t change my routines I’m more than halfway to my target without having to think about it.

What are these routines? Well, here’s the thing. I could list them, but it wouldn’t help you. My circumstances are unique, just like yours are. The specifics of what I do is tailored to me.

For example, I need to warm up my voice every day before I do my job. I work in radio and I’m part of a morning show. If my voice isn’t properly warmed up it will suffer. So, I spend time walking around as I quietly sing and work through these vocal exercises. That’s a circumstance unique to me…just like you have opportunities that are unique to you. 

Recently, I wrote an article listing 11 ways you can exchange habits of sitting for habits of moving. There are probably some ideas that can help you start making these exchanges and begin to build some daily habits that give you more steps every day. You can read it HERE.

Cold Weather Gear

I don’t like being cold. Most of my winter steps happen inside. But, not all of them. There is a specific beauty to this season that I can only enjoy outside.

I love long winter early morning walks as the sun is coming up with a coat of frost on everything. I also enjoy walking during the early part of a snow storm. It’s beautiful and the falling snow muffles the sound of the world. I love it!

1.21.19 copyBut, I can only love it if I’m not focused on just how cold I am. For me, it’s the ears. I need them covered and toasty. If I’ve got that I can go for a long time in sub-freezing temps. Thankfully, I’ve found a hat that does a great job. I’ve also learned how to dress in layers based on the temperature. And, I have a pair of Under Armour trail shoes that are great in snow (rain too).

I don’t walk outside every day, but the option is there when the wind isn’t blowing and I need a change of pace.

Snow Shoveling

A snow day means a bunch of steps clearing the driveway. 

136I like staying ahead of the snow. I find it much more enjoyable to shovel before it gets beyond a couple inches deep. Big storms equal lots of steps since I’m clearing the driveway multiple times a day.

Extended Chores

When the weather is cold outside chores inside are more appealing…as long as I can move while doing them. These include emptying the dishwasher, sweeping, cleaning counters, putting away laundry, and emptying the grocery bags one item at a time.

To be clear, I’m not a chore machine. But I’m more inclined to do this kind of stuff during the winter. In January I started cleaning out our basement. Lots of steps have happened doing this. I still have a long way to go.

So, even when the chores don’t feel particularly fun, at least I know I can get a lot closer to reaching 20,000 steps if I’m doing them.

Big Box Stores

This is my version of mall-walking. The closest mall is almost a half hour away and I’m just not willing to be in the car for an hour so I can get some extra steps.

But, I am willing to stop at Home Depot, Walmart or Target on the way home to pick up that one “thing” we so desperately need. In the process I will explore. I can get a lot of steps walking around one of these big stores before I start looking suspicious.

I am usually paying attention to what’s on the shelves and where it is. This can be helpful later when I need a small item and I don’t have time to walk all over the store to find it. I like to think my winter self is helping my future summer self who wants to be outside as much as possible.

The grocery store also fits in this category. In the winter I’ll take the long way through the store when I’m doing the shopping. I’ve discovered some pretty interesting things on the shelves.

22Who knows…one day I might actually need Palm Hearts.

Inside Track

This is about as close to being on a treadmill as I will get. Our house includes a loop between the living room, kitchen, and dining room. I can get a lot of steps walking this in-house course. We also have Alexa set up in the kitchen so I’ll see how many classic hits I can remember that I haven’t heard in while. I enjoy doing this a lot more than walking on a treadmill.

We also have some big windows facing west and it’s quite stunning as the sun is setting.

1.9.18I can do this Inside Track for a long time in the early evening. It’s actually pretty relaxing for me. I should also mention…I only do this when no one else is home. Since this is our main living space, I don’t want to be obnoxiously pacing around while Ava and Emma are trying to do their own thing.

Gut it Out

And then there’s this. Even with all the above options for winter steps there are still some days where I’m falling short and my Inside Track has other human beings relaxing in that space. And so…I’ll just head for the basement and walk around until I reach my goal.

Is this fun? Not a bit, but that’s not the point. Sometimes reaching the goal involves some less-than-fun gutting it out.

And, so I do.

It’s either that or finding a treadmill.

Do you want to Win at Fitness? It’s not easy, but it is possible! Goal 20,000 Steps can help with articles that will inspire and guide you to success. If you click the FOLLOW button (below on your phone…to the right and above if you’re on a computer) you’ll get each article sent right to you the moment it is published.

You really can Win at Fitness! We’ll help you get there One Step at a Time.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.