Cold weather creates the ideal conditions to melt away unwanted pounds - it forces your body to burn more energy to stay warm. Good, eh? Here's how to get the most calorie-busting benefit out of your cardio workouts this winter.
In a nutshell
The amount of calories you burn in any given activity is unique to you, because the process is affected by several factors, including your body make up, gender, metabolism, and the intensity of the workout. So, to give you an idea of which winter activities are generally likely to most fight the fat, take a look at this table based on someone who is 5' 9" and 155lbs (11 stone):
Activity Calories burnt per hour
Cross-country, uphill (high intensity) 1160
Cross-country, moderate 560
Snow shoeing 560
Ice skating, moderate 490
Downhill skiing, moderate 420
Falling over weightloss
"If you're a novice to any of the sports listed, your body will be unconditioned to the discipline and the climate, and you'll probably find yourself picking yourself off the floor and side stepping up some of the slopes, which will just add to the calorie burn effect" says Jon Stratford, head marine physical training instructor at Ultimate Boot Camp. So, chin up! It's all good for you.
Queen of the calorie-killers
Again, if you're a novice, the cross-country skiing is the ultimate calorie-burning sport for you. "It tends to require more energy than other traditional winter sports such as downhill skiing and snowboarding" says Mark Hines, exercise physiologist at The British College of Osteopathic Medicine. "This is due to walking/running flats and contours, with the weight of the skis underfoot – unlike many winter sports where momentum is initiated by gravity."
Even the weight of added layers of clothes, such as woolly hats and padded jackets, helps increase the amount of energy your body burns. Wear layers so that you can strip off as your body temperature rises. The more you wear, the more important it is to keep well hydrated.
Don't like the snow? Or can't afford a ski holiday?
Try running. It's free, and you can do it anywhere, any time. A medium built person will on average burn 200 calories running 5k in 40 minutes. "To increase the amount of calories you burn, aim to do the run in less time. This will take training; do it gradually and seek expert advice" says Samuele Serreli of www.ptworkshop.co.uk.
Finding it a struggle to leave the sofa and don't want to face the cold? Why not book a session with a personal trainer? Many offer a free initial consultation. The support will motivate you, plus they'll be able to offer structured advise on how to achieve your calorie and weightloss goals for the coming months.
Jon Stratford recommends following these simple, wise training rules, winter and summer:
- Warm up and mobilise your muscles, joints, heart and lungs prior to exercising.
- Start the day hydrated and keep drinking water throughout the day, (even more important after a night of après ski!)
- Eat regularly throughout the day to stay energised.
Last but not least...
Have fun! Whatever sports you chose to do this winter, get your inner child involved. Kick those leaves about. Jump in puddles. Roll around in the snow! The more you can enjoy what you're doing, the more often you're likely to do it, and so, the more calories you're likely to burn. And apart from that, be happy just for the sake of it! That'll bring sunshine to the darkest of winters.