The nice thing about running is that it makes even freezing cold temperatures bearable, which is probably why it’s the most popular winter sport. If you love running but are nervous about twisting an ankle on icy terrain, consider buying a set of microcrampons. The YakTrax Pro attaches to a shoe or light boot to let trail runners and hikers negotiate snow and ice with a secure footing.
It might not pack the same adrenaline rush as downhill skiing, but it’s a great full-body cardio workout that can burn more than 500 calories per hour. The barrier to entry is also appealingly low; in other words, you don’t have to be in great shape to get started.
Like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing is a great cardio workout that burns lots of calories – up to 750 an hour. It’s especially good for toning the lower body, since it works muscles in the legs and butt. You can also try running on snowshoes; you just need to get a smaller, lighter pair to go over your sneakers.
Downhill skiing burns fewer calories than its cross-country counterpart, but the thrill of speed is the reward. Still, a person who weighs 155 pounds can burn 223 calories in a half hour of alpine (downhill) skiing, according to Harvard Medical School, and the sport also improves agility, strength and endurance.
It’s basically a wash between alpine (downhill) skiing and snowboarding when it comes to burning calories. So go with the sport you like better. (If you’re a beginner, bear in mind that newbie skiers tend to fall less.) In both cases, the faster you go and the more twists and turns you incorporate into your technique, the more calories you’ll burn.
We’re not suggesting that you attempt a double axel anytime soon. But skating can offer a decent cardio workout that’s easy on your joints. Not to mention that it’s fun, because who doesn’t want to glide around on ice and pretend to be in training for the Olympics? A 155-pound woman skating slowly can burn about 387 calories in an hour.
You need a considerable level of overall fitness – and upper-body strength in particular – to give ice climbing a serious try. And then you need tools like crampons, ice axes, ice screws and rope to inch your way up a wall of ice, which could be a frozen waterfall or even a glacier if you’re somewhere like Alaska or New Zealand. Look for courses for beginners if you’re visiting a winter sports destination and think you have the requisite physical conditioning.
Are there other winter workouts that you love?