4 Winter Activities that Burn Major Calories

Jodi Helmer
by Jodi Helmer
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4 Winter Activities that Burn Major Calories

Baby, it’s cold outside, and the drop in temperatures means snow and ice — the key ingredients for great winter workouts.

“People think of winter and think it means staying inside,” says Shana Verstegen, ACE-certified master trainer and member of the Under Armour Training Team. “You can do so many activities outside during the winter.”

This winter, lace up your boots, grab your hat and mittens and head outdoors to experience these four calorie-blasting winter workouts.

For a heart-pumping winter hike through the snow, strap on a pair of snowshoes and hit the trails. Trekking through the snow requires muscular endurance and improves balance while providing a cardiovascular workout that burns about 476 calories per hour.*

For a more intense calorie burn, Kari Woodall, Under Armour Training Team member and owner of the TRX training studio BLAZE, suggests choosing hillier routes, noting that “Climbing hills is a great leg workout.”

If you’ve never tried snowshoeing, look for outfitters who rent equipment so you can try it before investing in snowshoes.

Whether you sign up for a recreational hockey league, register for a figure skating class or lace up a pair of skates and join your kids for a few laps around the rink, ice skating burns about 408 calories per hour.

Different types of skating provide unique fitness benefits: The rapid changes of direction on the hockey rink build core stability and cardiovascular endurance, while figure skating improves balance and coordination Woodall says.

“Ice skating can also be a social activity,” she adds. “Anytime you’re socializing and moving, it’s a win-win.”

Verstegen calls cross-country skiing, “a beautiful way to explore the outdoors.” It’s also an incredible workout. You’ll need to engage your entire body to master using skis and poles to navigate through the snow — and, in the process, you’ll burn at least 408 calories per hour. The faster you ski and the deeper the snow, the more calories you’ll burn.

“Even when it’s really cold outside, you’ll warm up fast so you won’t feel cold for long,” says Verstegen.

Downhill skiing burns fewer calories — about 272 per hour — but steering down the slopes and navigating the bumps, jumps and turns along the way builds balance and hip and knee strength.

Using poles for both cross-country and downhill skiing also builds shoulder and upper-body strength, according to Woodall.


A favorite childhood activity is a great winter activity for grownups, too.

Verstegen calls sledding her “favorite” winter activity, explaining, “It’s a workout in disguise. You have to climb up the hill to enjoy the ride down and that is harder than it seems.”

Sledding is a cardiovascular exercise that also works the legs — and arms if you’re pulling your child up the hill — burning about 408 calories per hour. The steeper the hill, the harder the workout.

To intensify the calorie burn, Verstegen suggests challenging other families to a sledding race: Set a timer and see who can go up and down the hill the highest number of times before the clock runs out.

When the temperatures drop and the snow starts to fall, don’t hide out in the gym or skip your workout altogether. Winter activities — and even some outdoor chores like shoveling the driveway — are excellent ways to stay fit and have fun all season long.

*Calorie burn is based on a 150-pound woman and uses calculations from CalorieLab.


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About the Author

Jodi Helmer
Jodi Helmer

Jodi Helmer writes about health and wellness for publications like WebMD, AARP, Shape, Woman’s Day, Arthritis Today and Costco Connection among others. She often comes up with the best story ideas while hiking with her rescue dogs. You can read Jodi’s work or follow her on Twitter @helmerjodi.


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