Two people cross country skiing.
Sports / Orthopedic

7 Winter Activities That Burn the Most Calories

Feb 12 2021

As temperatures drop, it becomes tempting to sleep in late and stay cozy. Research shows that Americans typically exercise less in winter. Some people lose motivation as the colder weather creeps in and prefer hibernating until it’s warmer again.

But what if we told you that you could be having tons of winter fun while burning calories? We’ve discovered seven winter activities that torch calories while giving you an opportunity to enjoy the season.

Don’t let your winter fitness goals suffer. Grab a warm jacket, hat and gloves. Give one of these activities a try to reinvigorate your workouts and stay motivated.


If you live anywhere that gets snow, you’ve undoubtedly had to do your fair share of shoveling. While it may not be the most fun winter activity, it’s useful. And you might feel a little better about having to grab your shovel knowing that you’re burning around 200 calories per hour or more.


It’s tough to beat the high-flying allure of sledding when it comes to winter fun. It’s also one of the best winter activities for burning calories. You’ll burn around 400 calories per hour while participating in this family-friendly activity. It makes sense when you consider the effort you put into walking uphill while carrying your sled.

Ice skating

This fun activity also gives your core and lower body a good workout. Depending on how fast you’re able to go, you could burn an average of 500 calories per hour.

Cross-country skiing

Cross-county skiing is sometimes called Nordic or XC. Unlike downhill skiing and snowboarding, you usually do this on a landscape with gently rolling hills or flat trails. You climb hills on your own instead of using a lift. As you glide your way across trails and terrain, you use your own energy to propel yourself forward. You also work all your major muscle groups.

The result? A full-body workout that burns anywhere from 400 to 800 calories per hour.


Snowshoeing is kind of like hiking with special footwear that lets you walk over snow. Snowshoes have a wide frame that distributes your weight over more space. This is how they keep your feet from sinking into the snow.

If you’re going at a fast pace over mountainous terrain, you’ll burn more calories than at a moderate pace over flat land. Either way, you’ll burn an average of 400 to 600 calories for every hour you spend snowshoeing.


No matter if you’re shredding the slopes or casually boarding downhill, you can burn anywhere from 350 to 650 calories or more per hour while snowboarding. This popular winter activity demands that you engage your legs, ankles and core muscles to keep your balance and rotate your body. It also gives you a chance to take in the scenery while working out.

Downhill skiing

This winter sport gives you a great excuse to get out of the house with your family. It’s also easy to switch up depending on the slopes you choose, your speed and if you try doing any tricks. Most people find taking multiple runs to be enjoyable, making it easy to spend an hour or longer on the slopes.

Skiing burns an average of 250 to 500 calories or more per hour.

With all of these winter activities, be sure to stay safe and healthy by stretching before any major workout.

Learn more about the orthopedics and sports medicine services we offer at Mercy Health.

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