How Many Calories Do You Burn Skiing?
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How Many Calories Do You Burn Skiing?

Skiing is a high calorie burning sport, with 400-600 calories burnt per hour of downhill skiing. The total number of calories burnt will depend on weight, age & skiing intensity amongst other things. Calories burnt skiing for 1 hour is only marginally less than the calories burnt jogging for 1 hour.

When you talk of skiing, many think of a holiday filled with indulgences. Beers and pizza on top of a mountain, mulled wine sitting on a veranda wrapped up in layers, enjoying the finer things in life. A massive calorie-burning holiday isn't necessarily what comes to mind. Contrary to most other types of holidays where the worry is how much weight will be gained by the time you are on your flight home, skiing will help you burn most calories than you could possibly expect.

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This is where skiing or snowboarding may pleasantly surprise you as being a high intensity, high calorie burning sport and holiday! - even if you are impartial to the odd mulled wine or four on the slopes. This will easily be burnt off with an afternoon’s skiing. You would be forgiven for thinking skiing is a low intensity sport that doesn’t require too much effort, however there is far more involved that just sliding down the mountain on your skis. Carrying your skis everywhere you go is hard enough work, never mind when your child drops their pole and you spend eternity side-stepping 10m up the mountain to retrieve it.

How Many Calories Burned Skiing for an Hour

It is estimated that you burn between 400 – 600 calories per hour of downhill skiing – no sorry, this doesn’t include the time spent recovering on the lifts. This is not far behind how many calories you burn jogging believe it or not. These figures obviously depend very much on many factors such as your weight, how fast/ intensely you are skiing & the type of skiing you are doing. For example, 1 hour of off-piste skiing or skiing through moguls will likely burn more calories, simply because it is more work on the body. If you are a beginner negotiating your way down mellow blue slopes, you will be burning fewer calories than someone who fancies their chances tackling a double diamond from the peak of the mountain.

Considering the calories burnt during a day of skiing, this gives you plenty of room for treating yourself to a few hot chocolates or a tasty pizza on the mountain top each day, and fully embrace the skiing culture and lifestyle!

Is skiing a good way to lose weight?

Skiing is not only a fantastic cardiovascular exercise to help you burn calories, lose weight and improve your fitness, but it is also a great way of building muscle and toning your body! If you ski for 4-5 hours each day on a holiday, which is not uncommon, you would burn a massive 1600 calories per day of skiing. I challenge you to find me a sport that you can stay entertained at for as long as you can with skiing! If you have never been skiing before, to put it in context it is not unusual for families to begin skiing at 9am and continue skiing until 4pm each day, with a lunchbreak of around one hour. Normally it is the kids who are the main driving force behind this. Skiing is a fantastic sport for some endurance building and resistance-based exercise. Below are some reasons that skiing is good for burning calories and for losing weight:

  • Skiing provides Cardiovascular exercise. This is a great form of exercise which helps to burn calories and is good for your heart health.
  • Skiing is a fantastic leg and core workout. The constant turning, shifting of balance and strength required in your legs and core for stability all lead to improved fitness and a healthier body.
  • The variety of terrain while skiing engages a range of different muscle groups, leading to a full body workout and better overall health. Sports which involve a full body workout are much better than sports which only workout a very select few muscles such as football.
  • Carrying your skis to and from the slopes is a great upper body workout. Depending on how far you have you carry your skis, you will definitely engage your upper body muscles such as your shoulders, your arms and your back. This will help you burn more calories without you even realising, until the next morning you wake up and are wondering why you have aching arms and shoulders even though you’ve been on your feet all day!

What muscles does skiing work?

The amazing thing about skiing is just how many different muscle groups the sport works. At first guess you may assume that the only muscle group that gets worked during a day of skiing are your legs, however you will be pleasantly surprised to find that a day of skiing forces you to use far more than just your legs. When you take into consideration how much you have to carry your skis around (and the skis of your children if they decide they don’t fancy it anymore) during the day – when you finish skiing and you have to carry your skis to the car or onto the bus, carrying your skis around when you are going for lunch etc., you will discover that there is a bit of upper body work involved with skiing as well! The very act of turning during skiing involves the use of your torso as well as skiing at speed which requires huge stability and great balance achieved through your torso. I can guarantee to you that after the first day of skiing, you will wake up the next day aching all throughout your body! Don’t worry this disappears very quickly as you get onto the mountains and feel the fresh air on your face.

The muscle groups that you work during skiing are:

  • Hips
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Calves
  • Feet muscles
  • Gluteus medius – rotates the thigh
  • Peroneus Longus – flexes the foot
  • Adductor Longus – flexes and rotates the thigh
  • Gluteus maximus – extends hip, rotates thigh and helps to extend the knee
  • Rectus femoris – extends the knee
  • Vastus intermedius – extends the knee
  • Biceps femoris – flexes the knee and extends the hip
  • semimembranosus – extends the hip and flexes the knee

These muscles are all responsible for contracting and controlling your hips, thighs, knees and feet while you are skiing. To get in shape before your ski holiday and get the most out of your skiing, doing exercises to strengthen each of these muscles would be beneficial and will help to improve your skiing. These exercises could easily be found simply by typing the name of the muscle into Google followed by ‘exercises’ or ‘strengthen’.

Do you have to be fit to ski?

The short answer to this is no. Anybody can put on a pair of skis and learn how to ski no matter what your weight or fitness level is. It really is a sport for everyone. The best skier I have ever known was overweight, though his technique was impeccable. There is no denying that good fitness will help you in skiing, and likely make your holiday more enjoyable, but it is not a pre-requisite to enjoy yourself on a ski holiday. If you are looking to work on your fitness, this in itself is a reason to try skiing, or jump back on your skis you haven't touched in years! One of the reasons having good fitness will enhance your skiing experience is simply that you will be able to last longer on the snow. Nobody has ever got home from a ski holiday and wished they’d skied less. Im sure a large number of people have arrived home after a ski holiday and wish they had skied until close just one or two times more than they did. Work on your fitness and get that extra hour in at the end of each day as the sun is setting, the crowds are dwindling and the air is cooling. You'll thank yourself when you get back to your boring, distinctly average life back where you came from where there is no snow or mountains.