At this time of year, outdoor workouts might seem impossible thanks to snow, ice and cold weather. In fact, some winter sports are the best calorie-burning workouts around. Activities like snowshoeing and skiing torch calories while providing an aerobic workout and building strength, endurance, balance and agility. More than that, they’re a lot of fun–and getting your blood pumping outside during the winter is a great way to make the season seem a bit less daunting.
Here are four winter activities that are great workouts on top of being a fun way to spend time outside with friends and family.
Snowshoeing torches calories–according to researchers from the University of Vermont and Ball State University, snowshoeing burns between 450 and 1000 calories per hour, depending on factors like speed, body size, and fitness level. It’s also is an aerobic activity that works on your balance and strength. If you haven’t been snowshoeing recently, don’t imagine yourself clomping around on those giant, old-fashioned models. Todays’s snowshoes are compact and lightweight, but still help you get a great workout and enjoy the great outdoors at the same time.
It’s hard to beat cross-country skiing for both endurance building and calorie burning, WebMD reports. It’s an aerobic activity because of the constant movement it involves, and it works both your upper and lower body. If you’re a newbie to cross-country skiing, look for well groomed and lit trails and start slow–there’s nothing wrong with taking shorter runs at first and then working up your time as you improve.
You don’t have to stop hiking when the snow falls–many areas have hiking trails that are great in winter as well as summer. Calorie burn will vary based on your terrain, but hiking is great for building endurance and strength in all cases. Make sure you do some research on winter gear and clothing for hiking–consider speaking with someone and your local outfitters store. And keep in mind that hiking trails with too much snow for walking in the winter might be perfect for snowshoeing.
Ice skating is low impact, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t offer a workout. An afternoon of skating around your local rink or ice loop will help build your lower-body muscles: the hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. It’s also a great way to work on your balance and agility, and burns calories: the average woman will burn about 400 calories in an hour of light ice skating.
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