Snowed in? Rather than hibernating during the snowy months—or consigning yourself to snooze-worthy workouts on the dreadmill—take advantage of winter’s playground and embark into the great outdoors for one fun, total-body workout.
“With winter sports, you’re tricking your body, activating your muscles in so many different ways,” says Robert Gillanders, PT, DPT, a doctor of physical therapy and spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association based in Washington, D.C. “The energy expenditure is off the charts.”
Winter sport workouts (such as ice-skating, skiing and even snowshoeing) burn mega-calories, sculpt tighter tushes and tummies and get you in tip-top shape. Not to mention, being outside in the fresh aspen air is exhilarating and energizing, great for beating winter blues. “There has been a lot of research on the psychology and wellbeing of being outside,” Gillanders says. “People who exercise outdoors are happier, more satisfied, less depressed.
Find out how many calories your winter sport workout just burned*, then go ahead and warm up with a mug of hot cocoa.
Cross-country skiing: 722 calories/hour
For an unparalleled experience in the great outdoors, there’s nothing quite like gliding across snowy terrain on a pair of cross-country skis. Not only is Nordic skiing a great way to explore winter woodlands, you’ll also get a challenging low-impact workout that scorches calories, tones the entire body and improves cardiovascular fitness. “Because the arms and legs are working at the same time, the energy expenditure is huge,” Gillanders says.
Ice-skating: 319 calories/hour
Glide, twirl and spin your way to better health on the ice rink. Ice-skating challenges your balance, works your glutes and thighs and gets your heart rate pumping.
Downhill skiing: 554 calories/hour
Hit the slopes for a fun, invigorating workout that’ll get blood flowing and tone your whole body. To maintain balance on the slippery slope, you’ll engage your core stability muscles while working your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves. Says Gillanders: “With downhill skiing, you’re in a crouched position, so you’re working the legs in a functional way and activating the lateral glute muscles.”
Snowboarding: 394 calories/hour
Similar to skiing, snowboarding conditions the whole body and is fantastic for improving balance and agility.
Snowshoeing: 577 calories/hour
Want an unforgettable adventure in the great outdoors? Strap on a pair of snowshoes and get moving! Snowshoeing just happens to be one of the best endurance exercises out there. “Most of the time, you’re trudging through heavy, unpacked snow, which forces the glute muscles to activate,” Gillanders notes. Plus, unlike running and other forms of vigorous aerobic activity, it’s low-impact and easy on the joints.
Sledding/tubing: 436 calories/hour
It might be smooth-sailing down the slope, but you’ll work up a sweat trekking back up the hill—and tone your legs, butt and hips.
Shoveling snow: 386 calories/hour
You’re probably thinking, “Shoveling isn’t a winter sport—it’s a tedious chore!” Well, that may be true, but shoveling your driveway also doubles as your daily workout. As it turns out, shoveling all that heavy snow is a demanding cardiovascular exercise that revs up your heart rate, all while strengthening the upper body, core and back.
*Calorie burn estimates based on a 140-pound female