Winter workouts

If your idea of winter exercise is lifting a cup of hot chocolate, check out these fun activities and feel great while you shed pounds

Canadian winters are inevitably cold, snowy and long. It’s tempting to succumb to the coziness of your couch, but this year, why not embrace the season? Put on your toque and woolly socks and head outdoors. These six calorie-busting activities will bring a whole new meaning to playing in the snow.

NOTE: Calories burned are based on a 145 lb. woman working out for half an hour.

What is it Snow shovelling
Calories burned 200
Target areas Abs, biceps, butt, calves, deltoids, and quadriceps
Why it’s good for you This is one of those needs-to-be-done jobs that doubles as a hefty workout. “Shovelling snow can require as much energy as running 15 km per hour,” says Jennifer Palmer, a physiotherapist in London, Ont. Skip your regular workout and hit the driveway on snowy days.
Getting started Lifting snow, especially if it’s wet, is like picking up heavy weights, so ease into it, and make sure you stretch, warm up and cool down. A proper shovel is also crucial. The
Canadian Physiotherapy Association recommends using a shovel long enough so you can slightly bend your knees, flex your back and lift. Ergonomic shovels with curved handles are especially good, because they allow you to keep your back straighter while lifting.

What is it Snowshoeing
Calories burned 216
Target areas Butt, calves, hamstrings, triceps and quadriceps
Why it’s good for you Think of snowshoeing as the winter combination of walking and hiking. “Snowshoeing burns up to twice the number of calories as walking at the same speed,” says Declan Connolly, an associate professor of physical education at the University of Vermont. Plus, the simple joy of walking on untouched snow is enough to raise anyone’s spirits.
Getting started Leave your Bjorn Borg-era shoes hanging on the wall beside the fireplace and get yourself a light pair of aluminum snowshoes, about $180 at
Canadian Tire.

What is it Tobogganing
Calories burned 226
Target areas Abs, calves, hamstrings and quadriceps
Why it’s good for you Remember being a kid and dreading the climb up the hill after gliding down it in mere seconds? That’s where the workout comes in, especially when you have to tow a sled and child up with you. Like Sisyphus pushing the rock or a gigantic StairMaster, the more you climb, the better the exercise.
Getting started Grab the ol’ been-in-the-family-since-1954 wooden toboggan, GT Sno Racer ($48), flying carpet ($2) or cafeteria tray and hold on tight.

What is it Skating
Calories burned 165 (moderate); 300 (vigorous)
Target areas Abs, calves, hamstrings and quadriceps
Why it’s good for you Skating boosts your endurance, balance and coordination—the aerobic equivalent to a light jog or run.
Getting started Besides finding a frozen pond or local arena, all you need are a pair of skates that fit well and support your ankles. New skates usually cost between $70-$100 and used skates are widely available at used sports equipment stores like
Play It Again Sports.

What is it Cross-country skiing
Calories burned 374
Target areas Biceps, butt, hamstrings, triceps and quadriceps
Why it’s good for you Besides being a total-body workout that won’t put stress on your joints, cross-country skiing improves balance, coordination and endurance and gets your heart pumping. The scenery alone will have you coming back for more.
Getting started This is a sport you can start at almost any age, because you control the intensity of your workout: it can be as gentle or vigorous as you want. Purchase new skis, boots and poles for about $250, or rent or buy used equipment at much lower prices. Then, find a trail, conservation area, local park or even a farmer’s field.

What is it Downhill skiing
Calories burned 287
Target areas Abs, butt, hamstrings, triceps and quadriceps
Why it’s good for you It’s a power activity that helps improve muscle strength and endurance through high-intensity exercise (such as squash, weightlifting and sprinting). The turning action also helps strengthen your tummy muscles.
Getting started Downhill skiing is pricey. Besides buying a lift ticket ($35-$55), you need boots ($200-$400), poles ($50) and skis with bindings ($400-$600). If you’re wary about investing so much money, consider renting equipment to start. (Most hills offer day-long rentals and have a good selection of sizes). Be sure to check out used sports equipment stores for great deals—some ski fanatics sell their equipment after only a year, so you can get last year’s models at slashed prices.

Get outside!

By Laura deCarufel
To find out more about winter exercise, check out these helpful Web sites:

· Cross Country Canada
  The perfect place to start if you’re interested in learning more about cross-country skiing, including its history, health benefits, equipment requirements and more.

· Out There
  This Web site specializes in sports, travel and adventure. You’ll also find detailed information on how to get started with snowshoeing, where and what to buy, and even trail maps.

· The City of Edmonton
  If your kids will be heading to the hills this winter, this site has great tobogganing safety tips.

· Alpine Canada
  The official site of Canada’s downhill ski team also offers news on the alpine ski world and links to other skiing-related sites.

· Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute
  Don’t forget to include the kids in your winter workouts. Health Canada reports that almost 55 per cent of kids between the ages of five and 17 aren’t active enough. This site provides survey results as well as tips for an active lifestyle.