While cold weather sends most people indoors, for many, snow means an opportunity to hit the slopes and enjoy a few runs. Not only is skiing a great outdoor activity but it’s also a whole-body work out that burns calories.
In fact, most people burn around 500 calories per hour of skiing. However that figure varies based on your size, type of skiing and effort level.
How many calories can you burn skiing?
The number of calories you can potentially burn skiing, depends on the intensity you train, your body weight, your type, and even the terrain.
Depending on these factors, you can burn between 500 to 850 calories an hour.
Use this simple calculator to get an estimate of your calories burned skiing for downhill or cross country.
How many calories does downhill skiing burn?
Downhill skiing or Alpine skiing means just that — skiing or sliding down a hill covered in snow on skis that have fixed-heel bindings. It’s the type of skiing that’s usually offered at ski resorts and holiday destinations. Most times, skiers will catch a ski lift to the top of the slope and ski down.
Downhill skiing and snowboarding burn 300 to 600 calories per hour on average — these estimates don’t consider the amount of time spent riding up on the chairlift or waiting in lift lines.
On average, an adult weighs 150 pounds, and they can potentially burn the following calories while skiing:
- Light intensity: 250 – 300 calories per hour
- Moderate intensity: 340 – 400 calories per hour
- Intense effort or racing: 475 – 600 calories per hour
The lighter you are, the fewer calories you’ll burn, and vice versa.
How many calories does cross-country skiing burn?
Cross-country skiing is when skiers use their own power to ski across various terrains instead of relying on transport.
Typically, cross-country skiing burns more calories than downhill skiing. This has to do with the fact that cross-country relies entirely on self-propulsion, unlike downhill skiing, where chair lifts help you scale mountains against the force of gravity.
Here are the variables which impact how many calories you burn while cross-country skiing:
- Skiing speed and terrain
- Your body weight
- Type of skiing
Cross-country burns between 400 and 875 per hour without chair rides or lift lines to provide breaks.
With a weight of 150 pounds, you can burn:
- About 400 to 500 calories an hour if you ski at 2 ½ mph.
- Between 550 to 600 calories an hour if you ski at 4 – 5 mph.
- From 600 to 650 calories an hour if you ski at 5 – 8 mph.
Factors that affect calories burned when skiing
Multiple factors can affect the number of calories someone burns during physical activity. It’s crucial to be aware of these factors when you’re trying to calculate calories burned skiing.
Your fitness level determines how many calories you burn from session to session. The fitter you are, the greater your endurance, and you can ski for longer stints, ski more runs, and so on.
If you start with a lower fitness level, you’ll burn fewer calories initially, and the number should gradually increase as your fitness and stamina improve.
Height and weight
Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) depends on your body size and composition. Skiers with larger body frames with more muscle will inevitably burn more calories than someone with a lower weight. Even while at rest, they’ll burn more calories.
The older we get, the fewer calories we tend to burn during physical exertion.
Someone much younger will have a higher metabolism and burn more calories. One’s metabolism tends to slow down as you get older, and you may not be able to push yourself as hard as you did when you were younger which will affect the number of calories burned.
Level of effort
The amount of effort you put into skiing plays a massive role in the results you get. Go for maximum exertion during carving and turns, keeping your core engaged and tight while moving and balancing.
These additions will dramatically increase the intensity of the exercise — increasing the calorie burn.
Is skiing good exercise?
Skiing is an excellent full-body workout with numerous health benefits. Not only will it help build fitness, strength, and endurance but it will also improve your balance and core strength.
What muscles does skiing work?
Skiing helps to strengthen the leg muscles, particularly the quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, and even your glutes.
By consistently squatting and balancing, you also help to tone and strengthen your abdominal muscles. A strong core will also aid in preventing back injuries while skiing.
Health benefits of skiing
The primary advantage of skiing downhill is that you can do it for a few hours. Cross-country skiing, on the other hand, is more endurance-oriented, similar to running.
You’re constantly lifting the skis upward and downward, which takes a lot of energy. After about half an hour, you’ll be exhausted, leading to more calories burned skiing.
Heart and cardiovascular health
Downhill skiing is a fantastic cardio exercise for optimal heart health. Renowned author and cardiology specialist Josef Niebauer has conducted extensive research regarding the effects.
Since you go skiing in the fresh and open air, it boosts your circulation by drawing in high amounts of oxygen.
Niebauer mentions that skiing appears to encourage cell health and reinvigorate blood vessels. His team saw positive effects on arterial stiffness, which indicates rejuvenating arteries.
Blood sugar and insulin regulation
Additionally, he points out that cross-country, downhill, and other types of skiing carry cardio-metabolic benefits.
Those benefits include improved glucose metabolism, body composition, insulin regulation, and more. When engaging in aerobic exercise, the muscles will boost glucose intake up to 50 times.
To keep the levels steady, your insulin levels go down, and other counter-regulatory hormones increase, like cortisol, glucagon, and others.
Reduces blood pressure
High levels of physical activity like skiing are connected with a lower incidence of hypertension.
Regular participation in skiing makes your heart stronger. A stronger heart requires less effort and pumps more blood through the body, decreasing the force on your arteries and lowering your blood pressure.
Mental health benefits
Studies demonstrate that physical activity boosts mental health by reducing depression and anxiety.
The beautiful scenery of skiing and exercising generally encourages endorphin production, which leads to a calmer, happier mood and higher self-esteem.
Even something as simple as setting and achieving a personal goal helps build resilience and mental well-being.
- Skiing is a full-body workout that can help you lose weight and stay in shape
- The number of calories burned skiing depends on various factors like height and weight, age, fitness level, and level of effort
- The essential health benefits of skiing are heart and cardiovascular health, mental health benefits, lower blood pressure, and insulin regulation
- Use our simple calories burned skiing calculator to work out how many calories you burn on the slopes.