By Sarah Gleim
When the weather outside turns frightful, we tend to want to curl up inside and hibernate until warmer temps return. But the last thing you want to do is sabotage all of the sweat and tears you put in to your warm-weather workout routine by vegging out on the sofa simply because the mercury’s dropped below freezing.
You can always continue working out at the gym, but don’t let the colder weather keep you from the outdoors entirely. The winter months (and snowy days in particular) provide us with all types of outdoor activities that help us burn a ton of calories -- and have fun while we do it. Here are 10 of them.
- Cross-country (Nordic) skiing. You’d be hard-pressed to find a full-body winter workout better than cross-country skiing. The pushing and pulling motions create the ultimate lower- and upper-body exercise, burning between 500 and 700 calories an hour. You might even get inspired to start planning your visit to Northern Europe in the process.
- Snowshoeing. Similar to Nordic skiing, snowshoeing is a killer workout through the snow, but it’s slightly easier because you slip the snowshoe gear over your own boots and simply walk. (We love that it's less expensive than other winter sports.) Expect to burn 400 to 600 calories an hour.
- Downhill skiing and snowboarding. Don’t think you burn calories downhill skiing or snowboarding? Think again. These winter sports aren’t just extremely popular, they’re also great exercise -- you can burn 300 to 450 calories an hour while you shred the slopes.
- Playing hockey. If you live in an area cold enough to have an outdoor ice rink, take advantage of it. Getting in a simple game of ice hockey will burn between 400 and 600 calories an hour while you bond with your buddies. (Don't forget your helmet!
- Ice-skating. When it comes to workouts on ice, ice-skating is surprisingly better than playing a game of hockey. Not only can you get out there and spin and twirl to your heart’s desire while channeling your best Michelle Kwan, you could burn 500 to 700 calories an hour in the process.
- Hiking. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t get out for a brisk hike. It’s one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors -- and a vigorous workout at the same time. Depending on several factors (like your speed and the incline of the land), you can expect to burn anywhere from 430 to 650 calories an hour.
- Walking the dog. Walking is a low-impact exercise that's easy on the joints, and despite the fact that we do it every day to get from point A to point B, taking the dog on a long, brisk walk benefits you and your furry friend. You can burn between 200 and 470 calories every hour.
- Raking leaves. It may not be the most exciting way to get your workout in, but at least you can feel better knowing you’ve burned between 250 and 400 calories (even more if your yard is huge!) while clearing the lawn of all those fallen leaves. We dare you to jump in your pile when you're finished.
- Splitting wood. If you need wood for your fireplace, consider chopping it yourself because it’s a killer core workout. You can burn 400 to 500 calories in an hour. Plus, you'll have the cozy reward later on of getting to relax in front of a roaring fire as you enjoy your handiwork (along with a cup of hot cocoa).
- Running. If you’re an avid runner, there’s no reason not to continue your regimen during the colder months. Just plan your route in advance to be sure it’s safe from obstacles (ice) along the way. Most importantly, dress for the cold weather: Wear layers, wicking fabrics, a hat, gloves and an outer layer such as a Windbreaker. Expect to burn 600 to 1,200 calories an hour (just like you do when running at other times of the year).