Winter Sports and Calorie Burning

The Physical Benefits of Skiing and Snowboarding

Skier downhill
Getty Images/Poncho

Skiing and snowboarding aren't just a fun way to get fresh air in the winter; they're also excellent activities for burning calories.

How many calories you burn largely depends on how hard you're skiing and the terrain you're on, and of course your body weight and type. On average, downhill skiing and snowboarding can burn about 300 to 600 calories per hour, but this doesn't count for the time spent waiting in lift lines or riding up on the chairlift.

On the other hand, cross-country skiers burn more calories — between 400 and 875 per hour — and there are no lift lines or chair rides for breaks.

Calories Burned Downhill Skiing

Downhill skiing may not burn quite as many calories as cardio-intensive exercises like biking and running, it's still an excellent way to spend a day and burn some calories while cruising down the slopes. An average-size adult weighing 150 pounds can burn the following calories while skiing:

  • Light effort: 250 - 300 calories per hour
  • Moderate effort: 340 - 400 calories per hour
  • vigorous effort or racing: 475 - 600 calories per hour

A larger adult weighing over 200 pounds can burn about one-third more calories per hour, but it's important to keep in mind that these figures do not include all of the time spent sitting and waiting to get to the top of the slope.

For this reason, it's important for health-conscious skiers to consume a moderate diet that correlates with their expected time spent actually navigating the downhill run.

On the other hand, Nordic skiing, which involves hiking up hills, burns about the same amount of calories as running.

Calories Burned Snowboarding

An adult between 110 and 200 pounds can burn between 250 and 630 calories per hour snowboarding; skiing and snowboarding require similar amounts of effort.

Learning to snowboard may put you at the higher side of the calorie-burn range because you get an upper-body workout picking yourself up off of the snow so frequently — everyone falls a lot when learning to snowboard.

Still, the better one gets at snowboarding, the less energy they have to exert to make it from the top of the hill to the bottom, so the fewer calories they will burn while taking part in the sport. Average pro snowboarders only burn around 350 calories per hour when they're casually hitting the slopes.

It's important for health conscious snowboarders to maintain a regular alternative exercise like running or swimming to maintain their physical strength between trips to the slope.