The prospect of falling head-over-heels down a mountainside gives snowboarders a strong incentive to stay upright, which burns many calories. Maintaining your balance as you rocket down a snowy slope is hard enough, but add in the lower-body movements required for carving out sweeping turns and it’s clear why snowboarding is such an effective calorie-burning activity.
Snowboarding’s calorie-burning benefits stack up well against other forms of exercise, according to the book “No-Fall Snowboarding: Seven Easy Steps to Safe and Fun Boarding” by Danny Martin. Snowboarding burns between 400 and 800 calories per hour, according to Martin. In comparison, gym aerobics burns 600 calories per hour, weightlifting burns 517 calories per hour and rollerblading burns 430 calories per hour.
The number of calories you’ll burn snowboarding depends on many factors. For example, if you choose a difficult slope that requires sharp turns, you’ll burn extra calories twisting and throwing your weight around to stay balanced and upright. Also, the heavier you are, the more calories you’ll burn. And if you tend to fall down and get stuck in the snow, you’ll burn quite a few calories digging yourself out, according to Martin.
Snowboarding’s calorie-burning potential is one matter. Whether you’ll lose weight is another. To shed fat, your calorie intake must be lower than the calories you burn. So, for example, if your body burns 2,000 calories in a day and you consume 2,000 calories, the two variables cancel out -- and your weight stays right where it is. But if you burn more calories than you take in, your body will start burning stored fat.
The trick to safe weight loss is to adopt a two-pronged strategy. Decrease your calorie intake while increasing your calorie-burning, aiming to hit a net deficit of roughly 500 calories, which will achieve a safe rate of weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. Start by working with your doctor or nutritionist to design a healthy low-calorie diet. Then exercise every day. Snowboarding is an effective option, but chances are you won’t be able to hit the slopes every day, so try other activities you enjoy. The more fun you have exercising, the more likely you are to stay motivated.
Stan Mack is a business writer specializing in finance, business ethics and human resources. His work has appeared in the online editions of the "Houston Chronicle" and "USA Today," among other outlets. Mack studied philosophy and economics at the University of Memphis.