How Many Calories Are Burned in Downhill Skiing?


When you're standing atop a ski run preparing to make your descent, you're likely not thinking about the calories you're burning during the winter sport. And with good reason -- you'll need all your attention for the run ahead. But as is the case with any type of activity, downhill skiing burns calories. The sport burns calories at a relatively low rate, but still provides several benefits.

Calories Burned

  • The rate that you burn calories while downhill skiing varies according to your weight. The more you weigh, the more calories you'll burn. Harvard Medical School notes a 125-pound person will burn 180 calories while downhill skiing for 30 minutes. People who weigh 155 and 185 pounds will burn 223 and 266 calories, respectively. Although these calorie totals are low, over a full day of skiing, it's easy to burn more than 1,000 calories.

Comparable Activities

  • The rate of burning calories while downhill skiing is relatively low. Other activities that burn calories at a comparable rate include ballet dancing, fencing, hiking, swimming, walking, water skiing and wrestling. Downhill skiing burns calories at a slower rate than cross-country skiing. A 185-pound person will burn 355 calories during 30 minutes of cross-country skiing. The same person will burn 422 calories during a half-hour workout on the ski machine at the gym.

Calories vs. Fat

  • Fat loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume, and sports and exercises are effective methods of reaching this calorie deficit. To lose a pound of fat, you need to create a deficit of 3,500 calories. A short downhill skiing session is unlikely to play any significant role in fat loss, but if you ski for several hours, multiple times per week, this activity can provide a slow, steady way to lose fat.

Skiing Benefits

  • Regardless of whether you ski enough to help you burn a noticeable amount of fat, the sport provides other benefits. Downhill skiing can build muscle, improve your cardiovascular health, boost your endurance and provide a reprieve from stress and tension. The sport requires the use of many major muscle groups in your body, including your legs, core, arms and shoulders.

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