Few things are better on a snowy winter day than curling up next to crackling fireplace with your favorite book, but if you're dedicated to keeping in shape through the winter months, brave the elements and give cross-country skiing or snowshoeing a shot. Both activities are ideal ways to burn calories when the ground isn't exactly suitable for your usual jog.
According to Harvard Medical School, you'll burn the same number of calories during cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. A 125-pound person will burn 240 calories while doing either activity for 30 minutes, while someone who weighs 155 pounds will burn 298 calories during 30 minutes of either activity. If you weigh 185 pounds, expect to burn 355 calories during a half-hour of cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
The rate that you burn calories while cross-country skiing and snowshoeing is moderate. Both activities will burn more calories than tennis, soccer, in-line skating, kayaking and walking at a speed of less than 5 mph. Activities that burn more calories than cross-country skiing and snowshoeing include running and cycling vigorously, swimming laps, jumping rope and practicing martial arts. Hockey, beach volleyball and running at 5 mph burn calories at the same rate as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Although cross-country skiing and snowshoeing provide a calorie-burning workout, ConsumerReports.org warns that while practicing winter activities, you should always focus on safety. Travel in groups, wear bright, visible clothing and consider wearing a reflective vest or carrying a flashing light, especially if you plan on moving along roadways. Wear several layers of clothing to keep comfortable and carry water with you to keep hydrated. Warm up before either activity by using dynamic stretches, which stretch your muscles and increase your core temperature.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you have seasonal affective disorder, you might feel depressed or have a lack of energy during the winter months, especially if you don't spend as much time outside as you do during the summer. MayoClinic.com notes that reduced exposure to sunlight can cause a reduction in your brain's level of serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates your mood. The clinic recommends a combination of exercise and being outdoors as lifestyle changes you can make to combat the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
- Harvard Medical School: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Snowshoe Magazine: Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing Helps Burn Extra Calories During Holidays
- ConsumerReports.org: Get a Better Winter Workout
- Shape: The Best Way to Stretch Before and After a Workout
- MayoClinic.com: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Causes
- MayoClinic.com: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Lifestyle and Home Remedies
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.