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Keeping fit is a blast with cold-weather sports

Yes, the weather outside is frightful, but this time of year is so delightful ... for trying a great new winter workout.

With so many hot winter activities out there, from the total-body workout of cross-country skiing to the challenge of golfing when everything is white on white, you're bound to find something that appeals.

For Chris Frado, that something is cross-country skiing.

"It's the be-all and end-all," enthuses Frado, president of the Cross Country Ski Areas Association. "Cross-country works all your major muscle groups -- it doesn't leave anything out. It's the best aerobic activity. It's forgiving on your joints, you can do it at any pace you want, you can do it as a child, as an adult, you can incorporate your children and your grandchildren!"

As if that weren't enough, a 160-pound adult can burn more than 650 calories an hour skiing cross-country.

For an even simpler snowy-day workout, try snow-shoeing. With easy-to-use gear that slips on over your shoes and nothing more than basic walking skills required, it's a shoe-in for the easiest-to-learn winter sport. And that same 160-pound adult will burn over 950 calories hoofing it for an hour.

Got a need for speed? Downhill skiing might fit the bill. "I love the sheer thrill of careening down a mountain at upwards of 40 mph," raves downhill enthusiast Tony Herrig, who was born at the foot of Utah's Wasatch mountain range. Then there's "getting out into the fresh air and sunshine, experiencing the grandeur of alpine vistas, and challenging myself to learn new skills." All this comes with a great burn of 450 calories an hour.

If you're not so eager to go so fast, try ice skating. You can glide through 534 calories in an hour (and you can do it at an indoor rink when the weather doesn't cooperate).

If you're a golfer, there's no need to give it up for the winter. When the links go white, grab some orange golf balls, skip the cart, and you'll swing through more than 340 calories an hour. And don't forget the gold standard for available, affordable exercise, whatever the weather: walking. Paced at a 15-minute mile, a 160-pound person burns 384 calories over an hour.

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