Chilly temperatures have a tendency to freeze more than just car engines: they freeze our willpower too. Luckily, it’s surprisingly easy to burn calories just by getting out in the cold for some old-fashioned winter fun — and it sure beats an hour on the treadmill.
1. Ice skating. Head to Millennium Park— just one hour of consistent movement burns 490 calories. On top of that, you’re engaging your core to stay upright, inching you closer to that six-pack when you peel away your winter gear.
2. Snowshoeing. Strap on a pair of snowshoes and tromp around your local forest preserve, or even your block (head out in the early evening for a great way to check out the neighborhood Christmas lights). An hour of steady walking burns — wait for it — 560 calories in one fell swoop. What better way to atone for your holiday cookie sins?
Rent snowshoes, $15 per pair for two days, $10 each additional day – The Runner’s Edge (multiple locations)
3. Shoveling. It has to get done anyway, so why not do it yourself and take care of your workout for the day? Clearing the driveway blasts about 450 calories an hour, so you might as well do the sidewalk … and your neighbor’s driveway while you’re at it. Just make sure you’re bending from the knees so you don’t put unnecessary strain on your back.
4. Sledding. Parents rejoice! Sledding burns a surprisingly high number of calories — 490 an hour. Maybe it’s not that surprising considering you spend 90 percent of the time schlepping up the hill, 8 percent of the time arranging snow pants and 2 percent of the time actually sledding down the hill, but what can you do? It’s a great way for parents and kids to get their cardio together.
5. Cross-country skiing. You might think cross-country skiing would be pretty low-impact in terms of calories, but exerting just moderate speed and effort knocks off 560 calories an hour. If you really are trying to push it, with some serious vigor you can torch upwards of 600 calories an hour, skiing off heavy holiday meals with just a turn or two around a beautiful nature preserve. Rent cross-country skis, $12 per pair, at Heller Nature Center, Highland Park
6. Having a snowball fight. Depending on how determined you are, you can burn about 319 calories an hour. If the snow is extra deep — meaning extra resistance — you can count on blasting a few more. Plus, it’s actually fun to run around and dodge snowballs, so you won’t be checking your phone every five minutes like you would during a spin class.
Calorie counts are approximate and vary based on weight and intensity of movement.
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