8 Ways to Burn Calories and Stay Fit in the Winter

Written by | Fitness

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Whether there’s snow in your backyard or you need to seek out higher ground, this season provides brisk opportunities to feel the burn.

If you think winter is a time for hibernation, think again. Swimsuit season will be here before you know it and if you want to stay fit through the cooler months, prevent gym fatigue by breaking up your routine with outdoor recreation. To keep you motivated, we’ve rounded up fun facts about the history and health benefits of cold weather sporting activities — including the calories you can burn with each.

Cross-country Skiing

400-700 calories per hour

All skiing evolved from this classic method of snow sliding that humans have been practicing for over 6000 years. Cross-country skiing is a sport where “low-impact” doesn’t mean “less strenuous.” It engages both upper and lower body parts for a total workout. Be sure you’re using the right kind of equipment: cross-country skis tend to be lighter and more narrow. Their bottoms are designed to glide forward while still providing traction under each foot. The boots allow for a movement of the heel, which helps create forward momentum, while poles assist with balance and help you fire up your core.

Downhill Skiing

275-600 calories per hour

Modern downhill skiing started in the 1850s in Norway, and got official when the Fédération Internationale de Ski was founded in 1924. Downhill skiing activates the abdominals, obliques, hips and the entire lower body. You can also expect that fast-paced slide down the mountain to raise your heart rate.

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250-630 calories per hour

Snowboarding was developed in the U.S. in the 1960s but didn’t go Olympic until the 1998 Nagano Games. Staying upright while maneuvering the board can provide intense cardio, increase flexibility and balance; and work your core, quads, hamstrings, ankles, feet, arms, shoulders, and calves. Though ski resorts initially scoffed at the sport, most now make special accommodations for its fervent fans.

Ice Skating

400-800 calories per hour

Whether your goal is to work up to johnny weir-style spins, speed through laps like Apolo Ohno or just hit the pond like cartoon strip Peanuts gang, skating provides a low-impact workout that builds endurance and strengthens the muscles that keep you stable. The Dutch are considered early pioneers of ice skating, with records documenting it back to the 13th century. Figure skating is actually the oldest sport of the Olympic Winter Games — oddly first contested at the 1908 Summer Olympic Games in London.

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420-1000 calories per hour

Snowshoeing may be the perfect winter fitness activity. Our ancestors started using snowshoes over 4,000 years ago out of necessity in searching for food. Today it’s increasing in popularity: roughly 5.5 million people strap on snowshoes in the U.S. each year.

Practitioners can select from three different types of snowshoes. Flat terrain snowshoes are right for beginners since they’re lightest and designed to function best on less-challenging paths. If you’re more adventurous, rolling terrain snowshoes are a good choice for hiking and backpacking in more challenging environments. Mountain terrain snowshoes are for experts facing the steepest, iciest conditions.

“Snowshoeing is the best bang-for-your-buck, fat-burning workout in winter,” attests Dr. Ray Browning from the University of Colorado. “It’s an exceptional way to achieve cardiovascular fitness, expend energy and reduce your chance of heart disease; plus it’s low cost, easily mastered and fun.”


250-500 calories per hour

Curling is a unique winter sport in which players aggressively sweep a path for a 44-pound granite stone, pitched across ice with rules similar to those of shuffleboard. It’s been part of the Olympics since the inaugural 1924 Winter Games in Chamonix, France. It requires eight players and much equipment, but it’s also an aerobic workout that strengthens arms and tones legs. Silly as it looks, people tell us they enjoy it.

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362-850 calories per hour

fitness might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of sledding, but consider the workout your glutes and quads get each time you trudge back up that hill. You’re working both your uppper and lower body as you steer downhill, and.you’ll definitely feel your efforts the next day.

Ice Hockey

550-1,000 calories per hour

the sport originaTed in canada in the early 1800s, got official rules in 1879 and was part of the first Winter Olympics. Playing it builds endurance thanks to constant starting, stopping and high-speed sprinting, and it requires sudden bursts of powerful force when passing and shooting the puck. As a result, it’s one of the hottest winter calorie burners around.

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Last modified: November 15, 2019