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Outdoor Winter Activities That Double As Workouts



When the temperatures start to drop, it’s natural to want to avoid the cold by staying inside. While we don't recommend going outside to workout in dangerously cold weather, the milder days of winter offer a great alternative to the gym! Even people who regularly run or bike outdoors during the warmer months will start to switch their workout routines to indoor activities. Hitting the gym is a good thing, but it’s also beneficial to your health to find some outdoor options. According to the 2008 Scottish Health Survey, outdoor physical activity has a 50 percent greater positive effect on mental health than going to the gym.  A 2009 study from the University of Rochester found that working out outside for just 20 minutes can increase your energy levels as well. Beyond the health benefits of outdoor winter workouts, there's also the fun factor. You might not think of sledding and ice skating as exercises, but fun outdoor activities can be a workout in disguise!

Ice Skating- 437 calories burned per hour
You might think of ice skating as just a lower body workout, but it’s also great cardio! You don’t notice how hard your body is working when you ice skate, but even skating at a moderate speed (nine miles per hour or less) requires your entire body to be engaged. The challenge of keeping your balance provides the added benefit of core strengthening.

Hiking- 477 calories burned per hour
Hiking can be as extreme or as simple as you want it to be. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, hiking is another great form of cardio and will help tone your body. If you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to start hiking on trails or other flat surfaces and slowly build up as you become stronger. To make your trips more fun, create a special hiking playlist or bring a friend to chat with along the way!

Sledding- 557 calories burned per hour            
Did you know sledding could burn that many calories? Although the time spent zipping down hills on your sled isn’t considered a workout (though balancing and steering can benefit your core),the walk up the hill definitely is! Multiple trips up a steep hill are great leg and cardio exercises.

Cross Country Skiing- 636 calories burned per hour If you’re looking for the ultimate calorie burning outdoor activity, try cross country skiing! Cross country skiing combines a lower and upper body workout, which makes it a total body workout. Constant leg movements and the simultaneous pushing and pulling of the arms make it an intense aerobic exercise even if you’re only traveling at a moderate speed of four to five miles per hour.

In the end, it doesn’t matter which outdoor activity you choose, the important thing is to get outside and get active! Always dress in layers so you can take them off as you start to warm up and put them back on when you start to cool down. Even though it might feel cold at first, remember that you’ll work up a sweat with any of these activities. For tips on how to dress for cold weather workouts,click here.

**Calories burned per hour are based on a moderate level of activity for a 175 pound person, determined with My Calorie Counter**


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