10 Ways to Melt Mega Calories this Winter

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10 Ways to Melt Mega Calories in Winter Weather

Outdoor exercise can help many people develop a greater appreciation of the cold weather and help prevent the winter blues. Instead of letting the dropping mercury drive you indoors, try one of these 10 ways to burn up some calories and make the most of the freeze.

All of these winter pursuits utilize your major muscle groups and multiple joints, so be sure to warm up, stretch and cool down during each winter workout. And don't forget about the importance of dressing for the weather (and your respective sport). As the odds of falling are higher when your balance is compromised on snow or ice, the right gear is critical.

*All calorie counts based on a 145-pound woman. Men and individuals who weigh more will burn more calories.

Snowshoeing: 510 calories per hour

Snowshoeing is a great way to get an outdoor workout in the winter and torch BIG calories along the way. Because the snow adds resistance and your feet are heavier in snowshoes, you'll recruit more muscle fibers with every step and burn more calories than standard walking or running. Exercisers of all fitness levels can work at their own intensity level and gradually work their way up to longer workouts. Fitsugar.com has several great posts about getting started with snowshoeing that you can check out here.

Hiking: 445 calories per hour

Don't reserve hiking for the warmer months. Winter is a great time to hike, provided it's not icy and you can still see the trail markers at your local stomping grounds. Hiking around in snow--especially deep snow--can be great exercise, too. It requires more effort from legs and heart than simple walking, and the only additional equipment needed is good, insulated boots that will keep your feet dry and warm.

Shoveling: 380 calories per hour

Let's face it: Most people don't enjoy shoveling because it involves time, hard work, and cold weather. If you view shoveling as a workout challenge, you may start to feel a little differently about it. With an ergonomic shovel and proper form (use your legs, not your arms and back), you'll elevate your heart rate to an aerobic level and burn enough calories to justify skipping the gym that day.

Sledding: 455 calories per hour

Provided that you're walking back uphill, you'll have fun with your friends (or kids) and boost your aerobic fitness with an hour of sledding. Get more out of it by working hard on your way uphill, and then you're basically doing interval training, which is a great way to burn calories and boost your fitness level.

Downhill Skiing: 385 calories per hour

A power activity that helps improve muscle strength and endurance, downhill skiing targets every muscle from your abs on down. It's fun but can be pricier than other winter sports, especially if you have to rent equipment. If you do decide to buy, check with used sports equipment stores: Ski fanatics often sell their equipment after only a year, so you can get the-almost-latest models at slashed prices! Because people tend to ski for several hours to take advantage of their day passes, you'll get a lot of exercise in a single ski trip, but keep in mind that these calories burned estimates don't apply to the downtime you spend sipping hot chocolate in the lodge or relaxing on the ski lift on your way back uphill!

Ice Skating: 450 calories per hour

Ice skating boosts your endurance, balance and coordination and is the aerobic equivalent of a light to moderate jog. It targets your abs, calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps, and can be done indoors or out. If you're looking for a fun winter date night that doesn't involve a movie, try ice skating--it's perfect for Valentine's Day!

Snowboarding: 390 calories per hour

When winter hits, many avid snowboarders hit the slopes as often as possible, which may mean they're skipping the gym. That doesn't mean they're missing out on a good workout. Snowboarding can burn anywhere from 250-630 calories per hour and help you improve your balance and core strength at the same time. (Snowboarders are known for having tight abs after all!)

Cross-Country Skiing: 510 calories per hour

Cross-country skiing is similar to snowshoeing in that it provides an intense cardio workout without stressing your joints. Burn 500 calories hour or more during a brisk cross-country ski excursion. You can ski almost anywhere you find enough snow: a trail, conservation area, local park, or even a farmer's field. This is also a great alternative to downhill skiing and provides more of an endurance workout because you don't have the downtime of riding back uphill between runs.

Ice Hockey: 380 calories per hour

You've heard of basketball, softball and soccer leagues, but have you ever looked into an adult lessons or leagues for ice hockey? Hockey is a great aerobic workout that also improves coordination, and you're never too old to start! It you're looking for something challenging and more competitive than these other pursuits, ice hockey could be the winner for you.

Broomball: 470 calories per hour

Broomball is like the poor man's (or college student's) version of ice hockey. The rules of play are very similar, but people use "brooms" to hit a ball, and instead of wearing ice skates, they play in rubber-soled shoes. Broomball recreational leagues can be found almost anywhere you find ice hockey leagues.

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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2/16/2010 5:26:16 PM

SPARKLER1001's SparkPage
I love downhill and cross country skiing. Like Ice skating and playing with the dog out in the snow. Winter is my favorite time of year! I am more active in the winter than summer! Let it snow!


2/16/2010 5:21:28 PM

Love playing in the snow with my puppy... would love more of it here in southern Ontario... I remember when we used to get lots of the fluffy stuff... not this winter. I've only shoveled twice!!


2/16/2010 4:08:32 PM

RD03875's SparkPage
It doesn't snow in the desert. Doesn't get below 65 where I live


2/16/2010 3:18:34 PM

turn on the Olympics right now and you can see the biathalon. We cross country ski up here, minus the guns! Great fun to get out. Lots of ski leagues to join. I have the worst time in the area, it gets published in the home town newspaper. Lots of laughing because, I may be the last, but there are 4 billion people who don't bother to show up.
the family goes out to practice together and we have some great family time discussing our racing skills.
Have I lost weight? YES, but even better, I have gained lots of muscles so that I feel so much better.


2/16/2010 3:01:58 PM

JDLEW596's SparkPage
Good ideas except it doesn't snow here in the Greater Tampa Bay area. But it does get cold.


2/16/2010 3:01:23 PM

JACKIE4019's SparkPage
I'm sorry but I hat cold weather and I try to stay in as much as possible. I have to burn my calories inside.


2/16/2010 2:30:03 PM

i sled but don;t have the opportunity to do any of the others. Good ideas though!


2/16/2010 2:07:52 PM

I love walking out in the snow. There is a mile trail through the local park where I walk. Part of the trail is snow covered. Nice change of pace from walking in the summer heat!


2/16/2010 2:01:57 PM

I love exercise outside. Hiking is my fav.


2/16/2010 1:50:40 PM

TLSMITH1978's SparkPage
Thanks for the article! I live in Wisconsin and I just went snowboarding for the first time a couple of weeks ago (I'm 31). It wasn't the best time I have ever had, buy it was alright. I enjoy the snow and winter activities outside but I prefer to fall on soft snow...the slopes were a bit hard when we went. This gives me more reason to get out with the kids and go sledding more often!


2/16/2010 1:40:12 PM

Hi,yes I agree that when you get outside to play or just get fresh air that it does make you feel better and lets off stress. my kids are totally diff when they come in from outside playng!!


2/16/2010 1:31:28 PM

sledding with your kid
Is great exercise too


2/16/2010 1:06:55 PM

Today was my first day on spark and it all started before I knew this site existed. I woke up & there was snow. The blizzard last week caused a mountain of ice on one side of the end of my driveway. I threw on my boots & ran out to the store & bought rock salt and headed back. Instead of making my husband shovel, I said you, know, I know I can use the exercise. So, I shoveled. ANd I felt GREAT when I was done. For the first time, I am ecstatic that it snowed more today so that I can go out and shovel again, lol. I found this site today from Parentconnect.com and I will be starting my journey to get healthy and fit.


2/16/2010 1:01:03 PM

TORTUGO23's SparkPage
You left out a real hot one.


2/16/2010 12:51:51 PM

TOMNJERI's SparkPage
i shoveled for over 90 minutes and I REALLY shovelled. Lost 1/2 lb. 900 calories lost!!
Maybe it should snow more often ( just kidding).

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