How Many Calories Do You Burn in a Day of Skiing

by Frank V. Persall

Skiing is a fun and exciting way to get a fantastic full-body workout that burns calories quickly. How many calories burned while taking part in the popular winter sport depends on the level of effort you're exerting and your weight and body type. Downhill skiing, also known as alpine skiing, is the most common form of skiing.

How Many Calories You Burn Skiing Depends On The Level Of Effort

Downhill typically burns between 300 and 600 calories per hour. Again, how many calories are burned has a lot to do with your weight. According to Harvard Medical School, a person who weighs 155 pounds can burn 446 calories in an hour of downhill skiing, while someone who is 185 pounds will burn 532 calories during the same period. (Note: This doesn't include time spent on the ski lift).

Downhill Skiing Health and Fitness Benefits

Downhill Typically Burns Between 300 And 600 Calories Per Hour
Downhill Typically Burns Between 300 And 600 Calories Per Hour

Downhill skiing is an aerobic and anaerobic activity, which is a big reason why it's such a great overall workout and calorie burn. Downhill skiing is a blend of endurance and resistance training. In addition to burning a bunch of calories and being a cardio workout that has positive effects on the heart, downhill skiing improves flexibility, strength, agility, balance, and endurance.

In terms of its cardio aspect, downhill skiing equates to rowing workouts or cycling. Of course, skiing through the deep powder and moguls of advanced-level black diamonds will increase your heart rate more than a leisurely cruise down a green circle, or "bunny slope."

The cardio-metabolic benefits of downhill skiing include improved insulin resistance and glucose metabolism, and a decrease in blood pressure (Blood Pressure Support Help), blood lipids (fat-like substances, of which too many can lead to high cholesterol), and resting heart rate. Downhill skiing (and all other forms of skiing) has been shown to reinvigorate blood vessels and cell health.

For An Even Better Workout, Try Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-country burns more calories than downhill skiing-between 400 and 900 calories per hour. Cross-country skiing is truly a full-body workout. The Olympic sport works your leg and butt muscles and because you're pushing off the ground with each step.

You also use your hip adductors on your outer thighs - muscles that don't even get worked when cycling and running. And that's just the lower body workout. Cross-country works muscles in your shoulders, your biceps, triceps, and back when you use the ski poles to move forward.

It's also a highly functional workout. When cross-country skiing, you're training and conditioning your body to move in a way it was naturally designed to move. Cross-country teaches you to improve the processes that make you more physically capable in your everyday movements. And, as you probably gathered from the nature of the sport, it boosts your endurance. A long-distance winter sport like cross country skiing improves your aerobic fitness as well as running does while giving you more energy throughout the day.

Two People Cross-Country Skiing
Two People Cross-Country Skiing
Two People Cross-Country Skiing
If you're in great shape and excel at cross-country, you can burn up to 20 calories per minute-a whopping 1,200 calories burned per hour.

Massive calorie burned like this are usually from skate skiing and mountaineering, both of which are more vigorous than standard, or "classic," cross-country skiing. Skate skiing is a style of cross-country skiing that uses shorter skis. To move forward, you have to kick your skis out to the side - a movement similar to ice skating.

As the name suggests, ski mountaineering involves climbing mountains on skis or by carrying the skis. With mountaineering, which is done recreationally and competitively, the participant often has to break through fresh snow; whereas with classic and skate cross-country skiing, the terrain has been groomed.

Uphill Skiing

Another vigorous type of skiing is uphill skiing, or skinning, which burns a hair less than cross-country skiing at about 18 calories per minute (for a 150-pound person). That calorie-burning rate is equivalent to running a speedy 5-minute mile. With each step, uphill skiing works the hamstrings, butt, and quadriceps. When using the poles, the arms, shoulders, and upper back get a workout as well. Skiing requires maintaining your posture, so it also works your lower back and abs.

Ski Jumping Is Not for the Faint of Heart
For advanced the adventurous skiers, there's ski jumping, a Winter Olympics sport where the competitors ski down a steep ramp that curves upward at the takeoff point at the end. Skiers leap from the end and try to cover as much horizontal distance in the air as they can. A 150-pound individual will burn 408 calories per hour while ski jumping, this number of factors in the climb up to the top of the ramp while carrying skis.

Does Snowboarding Burn as Many Calories as Skiing?

Man Snowboarding
Man Snowboarding
Man Snowboarding

Snowboarding requires a similar amount of effort as downhill skiing, so it burns roughly the same number of calories - between 250 and 630 per hour for adults between 110 and 220 pounds, respectively. Since many snowboarders, and skiers for that matter, spend hours on the slopes, the calorie-busting can rack up.

If you're a snowboarding beginner, you'll likely burn more calories because you'll be falling a lot and will get more of an upper-body workout picking yourself up. The better you get at snowboarding, the fewer calories that will be burned because you won't be exerting as much energy. Highly skilled snowboarders will only burn about 350 calories an hour when they're casually riding the slopes.

Snowboarding engages practically all your major muscle groups and even works some muscles that you may not use often (or didn't know you had as you'll likely feel the soreness the next day if you're a beginner) such as foot and ankle muscles. When riding the snowboard, the hamstrings, quads, and calves get a great workout. The ankle and feet muscles help you steer the board, while your core muscles (abs, hips, pelvis, lower back) will get stronger as you utilize them for balance.

Calorie Chart and Calculator

According to Captain Calculator, you can see the estimated calories burned, based on the weight of 140 lbs and skiing calories for 1 hour. If you would like to find out how many calories you burn, check out this calculator specifically tailored to you can be found here. If you need more help take a look at the Harvard Medical School calorie chart that can be found here.

Ski And Snowboard Calculator
Ski And Snowboard Calculator

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About Frank V. Persall

Originally from the UK, Frank has a passion for skiing and anything snow related. He is currently on a never ending mission to visit the best ski resorts across the USA and the the World. Frank is happiest when he is on ski slopes with his wife and three children.

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