Tone Up and Burn Calories with Winter Sports

Let it snow! Now is the time to bundle up and head outdoors for some invigorating winter sports. Outdoor activities burn calories to defend against winter weight gain. You'll maintain your cardiovascular fitness, strength, balance and coordination while having a good time. You'll breathe fresh air and soak up a dose of Vitamin D with the exposure to sunlight, which can also help fight seasonal depression.

Some activities can be family-oriented, shared experiences that make for lifelong memories. As a kid growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, I remember sledding on the golf course at the end of our street. There was a creek at the bottom of the hill, which made sliding down in a sled, toboggan or snow coaster all the more thrilling because of the risk that you might land in the icy water! We also enjoyed cross-country skiing on the gentle slopes of the course which were blanketed in snow.

Listed below is a comparison of the benefits of a variety of winter activities. Use common sense to enhance your experience. Be sure to warm up and stretch to avoid muscle strain. Gradually increase the amount of time to condition your body, as you would for any new exercise. Appropriate clothing and gear are essential to keep you warm, safe and comfortable. Wear layers: While you're moving you may get quite warm, but when you stop you can really feel the wind chill. A word about shivering: Shivering incinerates calories, but once you warm up, you won’t use more energy.

The following activities are rated for calorie burn, target zones (muscles most involved in the activity), and whether they are aerobic (with oxygen) or anaerobic (high intensity, without oxygen). The number of calories burned for 30 minutes relates to individual weighing 145 pounds (From ACSM Resource Manual, Calculation of Energy Expenditure).

1) Ice Skating: 230 calories
Mid-level calorie burn; aerobic activity
Low impact activity, as long as you don’t fall down!
Target zones: glutes, inner and outer thighs, quads, hamstrings, calves, ankles

2) X-C Skiing at Moderate Speed, 4.0-4.9 mph: 260 calories
High calorie burn; front runner for all-around aerobic benefits
Low impact activity with less risk of serious injury than downhill
Combines upper and lower body work, using poling motion to propel you along as you kick and glide on the skis (more complete workout than running or cycling)
Target zones: glutes, quads, hams, ankles; back, chest, shoulders, arms (biceps/triceps)

3) Downhill Ski, Moderate effort: 200 calories
Low-level calorie burn; anaerobic activity (interval training is good preparation)
Target zones: inner and outer thighs, quads, hamstrings, ankles (ankle strength is vital to balance and control). Lats, shoulders, arms use poles to push off and for leverage. Core: In the forward flexed position, abs and spinal muscles work to maintain alignment

4) Sledding: 230 calories
Mid-level calorie burn; anaerobic activity
Most calories burned walking uphill
Target zones: glutes, quads, hamstrings, core strength

5) Ice Hockey: 260 calories
High calorie burn; aerobic with anaerobic bursts (interval training is good preparation)
Target zones: glutes, inner and outer thighs, quads, hamstrings, calves, ankles;
upper body, especially wrist flexors and extensors

6) Snow Shoeing: 260 calories
High calorie burn (like strenuous walking); aerobic activity. Burns more calories than running or walking at the same speed. Swinging arms or using poles will increase number of muscles used and calories burned.
Target zones: glutes, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, ankles; adding poles recruits muscles of back, shoulders and arms

7) Shoveling Snow: 200 calories
Low-level calorie burn; anaerobic activity; endurance strength training
Target zones: we think of it as upper body, but it’s actually a full body workout, using back, chest, shoulders and arms to wield the shovel; legs to squat closer to the load; core strength to support and protect low back.

Core strength is integral to all activities and you can improve your overall performance with full-body strength training. Sports-specific training, i.e. performing exercises that simulate the precise movements involved in the activity, is the best way to take your sport to a higher level.

(c) Copyright - Joan L. Pagano. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Author's Bio: 

Joan Pagano is the author of best-selling fitness books, an informational speaker on health and fitness topics, and the owner of Joan Pagano Fitness in New York City.

Former trainer to Jacqueline Onassis and Caroline Kennedy Joan has provided professional guidance to people at all levels of fitness since 1988, creating hundreds of training programs for individuals, groups, fitness facilities, schools, hospitals and corporations.

Joan is an authority on the benefits of exercise for women’s health issues such as breast cancer, menopause and osteoporosis as well as strength training through the decades. She writes a monthly “Get Fit, Stay Strong” column for sharecancersupport.org focused on how exercise helps women with breast or ovarian cancer.

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