Whether it's the looming threat of black ice, the relentless wind pounding your lungs or the snow pelting your face, the winter months have a way of making outdoor exercise seem less than appealing. But if you're someone who meets chilly weather with a groan, your aversion to winter workouts might dissipate with the right cold-weather activity. It’s time to strap on your sneakers, head out into the frozen tundra and sing "Let It Go" loud and proud.|
Try some of these activities that can only be done once the thermometer dips below 32 degrees, burn major calories and break up the monotony of gray days sitting inside.
Skiing – 238 calories*
Adorable winter hats aside, downhill skiing will have you working lower-body muscles you didn't even know you had. Just ask Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn and her sculpted legs. The sideways shifts from left leg to right as you weave your way down your mountain will fire up your quads, glutes, calves and all the muscles in between. Plus, there's nothing better than a well-deserved après ski cocktail after a day on the slopes.
Snowboarding – 211 calories
Skiing's slightly more extreme cousin, snowboarding continues to be a popular option for snow bunnies of all ages. The added element of balancing on the board means your core muscles come into play in a big way throughout your ride to the bottom. Before you hit the slopes, try to fit in a few specialized workouts to be sure that your body is ready for the added strain on your muscles
Ice Skating – 238 calories
You don't need to know how to do a triple axel to find enjoyment in the simple pleasure of ice skating. While oohing and ahhing at the ease with which Olympic skaters master their complicated turns, simply gliding on the ice has its own impressive health benefits. In addition to core work, a story from The Washington Post details how ice skating has been found to play a part in increasing bone mineral density.
Snowshoeing – 272 calories
If your favorite part of summer is the endless trails found in local and national parks, don't let a little snow rain on your parade. This low-impact aerobic exercise can be done pretty much anywhere snow is on the ground and is a great way to get out and see the beauty of snow-covered trees all winter long.
Cross-Country Skiing – 238 calories
Anyone who has ever lost momentum before they reached the lift line knows how difficult it is to maneuver skis on flat ground, but the sport of cross-country skiing is guaranteed to blast both your upper and lower body in a short amount of time. Depending on your technique, you'll be utilizing your abdominals, triceps, biceps, glutes and quads and more, as you push, glide and skate your way along a gorgeous, snowy trail.
Broomball – 238 calories
Part hockey-minus-the-skates, part field-hockey-on-ice, broomball gains more fans every year. Played on an ice rink in sneakers with a stick topped with a broom-shaped head, your objective is to shoot a ball into the opposing team's goal, which means a lot of running and maybe a few slips on the ice. After running and sliding across the ice for 20 minutes, you'll be sweaty and happy. Look for a local league as a great way to ensure you emerge from hibernation to socialize with friends throughout the winter months.
Sledding – 238 calories
Grab your kid's sled or a trashcan lid and hit the closest hill for a fun way to burn some calories. After climbing up the hill, working your calves and quads in the process, enjoy your instant reward as you slide high-speed down to the bottom—then do it again. This is a great way to get the whole family to exercise while spending time together.
Hockey – 272 calories
Take ice skating and add the element of quick-paced competition and you've got a high-energy winter sport that requires every muscle group. Your hamstrings will feel the burn as you skate backward, while your inner thighs benefit from your lateral movements. Plus, holding and shooting with your hockey stick will keep your arm muscles in the game.
Curling – 136 calories
While it might appear slow-paced and simple watching the pros do it in the Olympics, curling competitors actually work up quite a sweat. The process of "sweeping" requires the arms to move quickly as you press the brush into the hard ice to guide the rock to its intended target area. Just a few passes will leave your upper arms with that feels-so-good burn.
Shoveling Snow – 211 calories
It's a chore, yes, but when you're out there at the crack of dawn carving a path for your car to get down the driveway, keep in mind that you're getting in some solid calorie-burning work. The fact that just 30 minutes of shoveling destroys more than 200 calories should be enough to at least put a small, frozen smile on your face.
*All calories burned estimates based on 30 minutes of activity for a 150-pound person.