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The 9 Winter Olympic Sports that Burn the Most Calories

Feb 7, 2014
That time is upon us again...the world's best athletes will convene near the Black Sea in the Russian city of Sochi for the XXII Olympic Winter Games (and XI Paralympic Games) to put on incredible feats of athleticism, along with some of the most inspiring stories of perseverance, determination and other core intrinsic values.

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As we all cheer on our native or adopted countries' top athletes in their pursuit for excellence in competition, for those of us not blessed to be chosen to represent our respective nationalities at this Winter's games, here are nine sports you can adopt and gain their calorie-burning and physique-defining benefits.

Curling (250-400 calories per hour)

Curling is my guilty pleasure. I will seriously take a sick day in the two week span of the Olympics just to watch curling at some late hour. This is the perfect winter sport for you if you like brooms. And though seemingly silly, you can actually burn between 250 and 400 calories an hour by curling. So get to sweeping!

Ski Jumping (250-500 calories per hour)

Are you insane? I would never ski jump! But if you do, and you carry your skis, you will burn up in the area of 250 to 500 calories in an hour. Good luck on the landing!

The 9 Winter Olympic Sports That Burn the Most Calories
Sledding (400-600 calories per hour)

While you may not have a bobsled, luge or skeleton in your garage, no need to fear! The concept is roughly the same for those of us with toboggans or sleds at home--sledding will help you burn in the neighborhood of between 400 to 600 calories per hour...more if you have little children to chase down! If you think about it, dragging that sled back up the hill is a workout. Take note of form and physique of the sled handlers in this year's games, and you'll see why sledding is a great workout.

Freestyle Skiing (400-600 calories per hour)

Another one of those are-you-serious-about-this sports, freestyle skiing is physically demanding on the body and requires a degree of athleticism. While most of us would probably burn on the low end (say 300 to 400 calories), pro freestylers can burn anywhere on the 500 to 600 calories per hour range.

Ice Hockey (400-700 calories per hour)

One of the most physically demanding sports, ice hockey has a storied Olympic past. It also can provide you with a great, competitive workout. On average, a pickup game of hockey will burn you about 400 to 700 calories in an hour, depending on the speed and intensity at which you play. If your game last's longer than an hour, you can burn upwards of of 1,100-1,200 calories or more, so make sure you get plenty of hydration and fuel for your body post game.

Snowboarding (300-800 calories per hour)

Finally finding Olympic status within the last two decades, snowboarding is another great way to shred calories while you shred powder. Moderate boarding can burn upwards of 400 calories per hour, while really tearing it up can help you spend about 600 to 800 calories in 60 minute's time.

Ice Skating (300-900 calories per hour)

While some of us may remember ice skating for less than its exercise benefits (Jeff Gillooly, anyone?), one of the greatest ways to torch your pounds is skating! Whether you want to take a few leisurely laps around the rink, which will burn you anywhere from 300 to 400 calories an hour, to stepping it up to skating for speed and endurance, which can shred upwards of 900+ calories per hour, skating is a great winter time activity that can include the whole family. It is also a relatively inexpensive one, even if you have to travel for ice time, where skate/rink fees are generally around $10 per person.

Biathlon (500-900 calories per hour)

Cross country skiing plus guns equals biathlon. Probably the most (in my opinion) taxing winter Olympic sport in terms of focus and physicality, biathlon training can burn you anywhere from 500 to 900 calories per hour. This mainly comes from the cross-country skiing portion, so the longer you ski, the more you'll burn.

Skiing (350-1,000+ calories per hour)

Cross-country skiing is the best for caloric burn, netting you upwards of 800 to 1,100 calories in an hour. Enjoying a day on the slopes can burn between 400 and 600 calories. Another family-friendly activity, this one tends to run a little more in the pocketbook for lift tickets and equipment rental.

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Ryan Barnhart, MS, PES, is a certified Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). He also holds a master's degree in exercise science, as well as a bachelor of sport management, both from California University of Pennsylvania. Ryan has worked with numerous professional, collegiate and amateur athletes across many different fields, including professional and arena football players, Mixed Martial Artists, elite runners, international soccer players, and more. 

Ryan is currently the director of fitness at a 700+ member gym near Pittsburgh, PA, as well as the owner and operator of Funky Fitness PA, a personal training studio, in home personal training and personalized fitness planning service. Ryan's work has been featured across the US and the globe, working with clients in all facets of life. He enjoys working with weekend warriors, athletes, and everyone in between. You can check Ryan out on Facebook or follow him on Twitter, or you can reach him at funkytimefitness@gmail.com.



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