How many calories do you burn in a day of downhill skiing?

Downhill skiing is a popular winter sport that provides an excellent cardiovascular workout and burns a significant number of calories. The exact number of calories burned while skiing depends on a variety of factors, including your weight, skiing speed and intensity, terrain, and length of your ski session.

Quick Answer

On average, a 155 lb person can expect to burn around 600 calories per hour of downhill skiing. So in a full day on the slopes, you could burn anywhere from 2,400 to 4,800 calories or more depending on how long you ski.

Calories Burned Per Hour

Studies have found that downhill skiing burns around 410 to 680 calories per hour for a 155 lb person, depending on intensity. The harder and faster you ski, the more calories you’ll burn. Here’s a rough estimate of how many calories you can expect to burn per hour of downhill skiing based on your weight:

Weight Calories burned per hour
120 lbs 330-550 calories
140 lbs 385-640 calories
155 lbs 410-680 calories
175 lbs 465-775 calories
200 lbs 525-875 calories

As you can see, lighter people burn fewer calories per hour, while heavier people burn more. But in general, expect to torch through 400 to 700 calories for every 60 minutes you’re cruising down the mountain.

Calories Burned All Day

To estimate how many calories you’ll burn skiing all day, you’ll need to factor in how many hours you actually spend on the slopes. This can vary significantly depending on your stamina, how crowded the resort is, and how much time you take off for meals/breaks.

Most skiers spend anywhere from 3 to 8 hours actively skiing in a day. So if we take our average calorie burn per hour estimates, here’s how many calories a 155 lb person would burn skiing for different durations:

  • 3 hours of skiing = 1,230 to 2,040 calories
  • 5 hours of skiing = 2,050 to 3,400 calories
  • 7 hours of skiing = 2,870 to 4,760 calories
  • 8 hours of skiing = 3,280 to 5,440 calories

As you can see, the longer you ski, the more energy you expend. Skiing for a full 8-hour day could torch over 5,000 calories for some people!

Factors That Impact Calories Burned

Several variables affect how many calories you burn while downhill skiing. These include:

1. Body weight

Heavier people burn more calories skiing than lighter individuals. More body weight requires more energy expenditure to propel yourself down the mountain.

2. Speed

Your speed and intensity skiing has a big impact on calorie burn. Cruising slowly down green runs will burn fewer calories than racing down black diamonds at top speed.

3. Terrain

Skiing on steeper terrain that requires more turns burns more calories than going down shallow, straight slopes. Skiing moguls and through trees also increases calorie expenditure.

4. Skiing technique and efficiency

Better technique and more efficient skiing motions burn fewer calories than wild, unpolished skiing. So novice skiers may burn more energy than experts.

5. Upper body workout

Actively using your poles and upper body while skiing can further increase calorie burn compared to just using your legs.

6. Snow conditions

Skiing through soft powder snow requires more effort than groomed corduroy. Also, variable snow depths burn more energy than a perfectly smooth surface.

7. Length of ski session

The longer you ski in a day, the more calories you’ll burn, especially as fatigue sets in later in the day.

8. Fitness level

Those in better cardiovascular shape burn calories more efficiently. Out-of-shape skiers may burn more calories skiing at the same pace as a fit skier.

9. Age and gender

Younger people and men tend to burn more calories skiing than older individuals and women respectively.

10. Fat vs. muscle

While heavier skiers burn more calories overall, those with more muscle mass burn more calories pound-for-pound than skiers with more fat.

How Skiing Compares to Other Exercises

Downhill skiing provides an intense full body workout, burning calories at a rate comparable to many other high-intensity exercises.

Here’s how downhill skiing stacks up against other workouts in terms of estimated calories burned per hour for a 155 lb person:

Exercise Calories burned per hour
Downhill skiing (moderate effort) 410 calories
Downhill skiing (vigorous effort) 680 calories
Running (6 mph) 610 calories
Mountain biking 480-640 calories
High-impact aerobics 365-550 calories
Road cycling (14-16 mph) 590 calories
Swimming freestyle 510 calories
Basketball game 365-550 calories

As you can see, at a moderate pace, downhill skiing burns over 400 calories per hour, comparable to activities like cycling or swimming. And when skiing vigorously, you can burn over 680 calories per hour, similar to running 6 mph or playing basketball.

Tips to Maximize Calorie Burn

Here are some tips to help maximize the number of calories you burn while downhill skiing:

  • Maintain a brisk, steady pace and take shorter breaks
  • Aim for longer ski sessions – try to ski the whole day if possible
  • Challenge yourself by skiing harder terrain and runs
  • Focus on good technique and use your upper body
  • Increase speed and intensity as you get warmed up
  • Stay hydrated and fueled with healthy snacks to maintain energy
  • Get in better cardiovascular shape prior to ski season
  • Choose variable terrain with fresh snow when possible

The Bottom Line

Downhill skiing can burn up to 700 calories per hour, depending on your effort, making it an awesome aerobic exercise. While your exact calorie expenditure skiing will vary based on the factors discussed, you can expect to torch anywhere from 2,000 to over 5,000 calories after a full day hitting the slopes!

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