Outdoor sport: why sport and physical activity in the open air is a good idea, even in winter

Outdoor sport

The new year has well and truly begun, and the Advent and Christmas break is already a few weeks ago now. Have you made resolutions for 2022? Maybe you’d like to do some more exercise after the festive season, in which you ate a lot and spent lots of happy hours inside in the warm? It’s definitely not a bad idea – and you’re not alone. Doing more sport or physical exercise is one of the commonest new year’s resolutions (in the top 5).
This blog will illustrate why exercising / doing sport outside is a good idea, even in winter. It will also tell you about some outdoor activities you can do in Zug Canton. Maybe this will help you to keep your new year’s resolution or even inspire you to do something new.

Fresh air and exercise

You already know that sport and exercise are healthy, and good for your physical and mental wellbeing, and you’ve probably heard this from other people, or read it, more than enough times already. But being outside in the fresh air really does also benefit your health – even without sport! Studies have shown that increased exposure to the outdoors (among other things) is associated with a lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and cortisol, as well as a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, mortality and premature births. The frequency of conditions such as strokes, high blood pressure and coronary heart diseases also goes right down. Spending time in the open air also reduces stress, tension and the symptoms of depression, and boosts your energy at the same time. You can find out more about the effects of nature on your health in our blogs “Enjoy some fresh air!” or “Forest bathing is good for your health”.
If you seize your opportunity now and do sport in the open air, the positive effects will only increase. In addition, studies have shown that people enjoy sport more when they do it outdoors and they are more likely to continue to do exercise. This could be a good trick for you if you have resolved to exercise more in the new year.

When was the last time you were outside in the fresh air? When was the last time you took any sort of exercise outside?
OK, so you don’t like the cold, and you have no idea what your options are at the coldest time of year? We’ll show you!

What can I do outside in winter?

For many people, winter sport means skiing or snowboarding. But in principle you can pursue almost all the same sports in winter that you can in summer. There are many great ideas for taking exercise outside when it’s cold. Outdoor exercise is good for you in winter too! And you can also give your immune system a big boost by training your body to adapt to very different temperatures. You can also counteract your low vitamin D levels if you go outside into the sun during the winter months. But remember that sunscreen is very important even in winter, particularly if you’re spending time in the mountains, so make sure you protect yourself properly. You can find tips and information about how to protect yourself here.
More moderate types of sport are generally recommended when the temperature drops. If need be, you should, however, avoid doing sport outdoors when the temperature is well into minus figures. For example, you could go for a nice walk.
Jogging in winter? That’s a good option too. But you should make sure that you breathe in and out through your nose, to keep your lungs safe. This way the air warms up a little before ending up in your bronchial tubes. In addition, you must make sure that your clothes and equipment are appropriate for the weather conditions. You should dress warmly, even if you start to sweat. You can find more information about jogging, with some helpful tips, here.

And this is very important for all sport and exercise in the open air: don’t overestimate yourself! Start slowly and adapt your activities to your ability and how you currently feel.

Ideas for activities in Zug Canton

Zug Canton has various opportunities for outdoor exercise. Below we list a few ideas, with links to the relevant websites, so you can learn more about these exercise opportunities if you are interested. Some types of sport require snow, but there are also a few that you can do whatever the weather. These ideas are also meant to inspire you – maybe you fancy trying out something new?
When trying a new sport, find out in advance what you need to know. For example, the correct equipment is crucial for snowshoe walking (see Safe snowshoe walking). And always make sure you check the weather forecast shortly before starting your activity, to avoid unpleasant surprises. You can find a lot of information online. Maybe you know some people who already do a certain sport? Ask them!

Sport and exercise opportunities:

  • Track running: You can run these running tracks at a pace that suits you. You don’t have to jog if you don’t want to. If you prefer to go running in a group, then join the Zuger Lauftreff running club. There is also ZUG.RUN, where you will find even more exciting running routes.
  • Fitness trails: Fitness trails are also great in winter. Here you can train for endurance as well as for strength. It’s also a good way to improve your balance and flexibility. You can find an overview here.
  • Walks: You can go on a walk at any time (in pretty much any weather) and more-or-less anywhere in Zug Canton. Some great routes have been created as part of the HeyZug campaign and you can take a look at them here. You can, of course, jog these routes as well as walk them. Zug Tourism has more walk ideas. Maybe you have a personal favourite walk in the summer? Try it in winter! If you don’t like being out on your own and would be glad of some company, take a look at Mach-mit and find an exercise group.
  • Cross-country ski trails: The cross-country ski trails on the Zugerberg, or in Unterägeri and Menzingen are quite close by. You can even plan your trip to the Zugerberg, for example, at Zug Tourism.
  • Toboggan runs
  • Ice sports
  • Winter hiking: Zug Tourism suggests two beautiful winter hiking routes. You can find them here. Also, WegWandern.ch has made a great selection of winter hikes available. You will find hikes in Zug Canton itself and hiking suggestions for the region.
  • Snowshoe treks: You can also find suggestions for snowshoe walking routes online at Zug Tourism and at WegWandern.ch.
  • Snow sports: Here for all skiing regions and what they offer in the winter.

As you can see, there’s more to winter than ski pistes! Have fun exercising in Zug’s fresh air! :-)


Lahart, I., Darcy, P., Gidlow, C., & Calogiuri, G. (2019). The effects of green exercise on physical and mental wellbeing: A systematic review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(8), 1352. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16081352
Thompson Coon, J., Boddy, K., Stein, K., Whear, R., Barton, J., & Depledge, M. H. (2011). Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review. Environmental science & technology, 45(5), 1761-1772. https://doi.org/10.1021/es102947t
Twohig-Bennett, C., & Jones, A. (2018). The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes. Environmental research, 166, 628-637. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2018.06.030

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