live it active

Skiing burns how many calories?

Winter is upon us…well, in more northern parts of Canada. For some, i.e. my family, it is still a balmy 15 degrees. Add a negative to that number and you’ve got a taste of what we’re being hit with out west and slightly to the north.

This weekend we went skiing. That’s right, it’s ski season out here. While I may be a bit apprehensive of enduring a 6-8 month winter, I am fairly certain that regular trips to the mountains to ski down their snowy slopes will help to keep me in good form – both mentally and physically.

As winter approaches we tend to go into a milder version of torpor. Our activity levels become drastically reduced to what they were in the summer. Yes, we may be heading to the gym a little more regularly, but we’re not walking to dinner or the library. We’re driving. And I get it. I walked home in -19 on Friday and my face was the colour of a tomato and unable to move in certain locations upon my arrival home. Baby, it’s cold outside.

Yet, as I mentioned in a previous post, we need us some vitamin D (Mom, I know that’s bad grammar, I’m doing it on purpose). Thus, it;s important that we brave the cold every now and then.

As motivation, if getting adequate amounts of vitamin D and improving your physical and mental health isn’t enough, I thought I would provide you with the caloric expenditures of a variety of winter activities. Perhaps the number will help you to dress yourself (warmly) and head outside.

The information presented below has been taken from the Compendium of Physical Activity which is a long long list of all activities under the sun and their respective intensity level. It’s important to note that while this compendium has proven helpful in the scientific community, it is not a perfect science and thus, there will be some error.

The compendium expresses intensity as a metabolic equivalent of task (MET). A MET value indicates the intensity that a person is working at for a given activity which can be translated into oxygen consumption (ml/kg/min) or caloric expenditure (kcal/kg/hr). To give you an idea of intensity range:

  • 0-0.99 METs – Sedentary
  • 1.0 – 2.99 METs – Light intensity
  • 3.0 – 5.99 METs – Moderate intensity
  • > 6 METs – High intensity

Now that you have a better sense of what a MET means, let’s look at the METs for a given winter activity:

  • Skating (general) – 7 METs
  • Cross-country skiing (moderate at 4 – 4.9 mph) – 8 METs
  • Skiing downhill (moderate) – 6 METs
  • Sledding – 7.0 METs
  • Snowshoeing – 8.0 METs
  • Sitting in a church, attending a ceremony – 1 MET (just in case you’re interested…it was the next activity on the list after snowshoeing)

They’re all fairly high intensity activities, minus the church going. To figure out the caloric expenditure for each activity, take a look at the formula below.

An easy formula to figure out caloric expenditure is as follows:

kcal = (Intensity (METs) x bodyweight (kg)) / 60 min

Let’s calculate how much I would have burned during my day of skiing this weekend.

Kcals burned during downhill skiing = (6 METs x 64 kg (my bodyweight)) / 60 min

= 384 / 60

= 6.4 kcal / min or 384 kcal per hour

Thus, in just four hours, I burned approximately 1526 calories. And I had an absolute blast doing it.

So get out there and brave the cold. Your mind and body will thank you.

Happy winter!



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