How Many Calories Do You Burn on the Slopes? (Skiing / Snowboarding)

Many people see skiing and snowboarding as sports that are quite decadent. After all, skiing is often expensive, and it’s simply sliding down some snow right? How hard could it be?

In truth, skiing and snowboarding are some of the most physically demanding sports in the world, for many reasons. 

The first thing to note is that while skiing and snowboarding do use gravity, there is an awful lot of technique involved in being able to control speed and direction, and as such a huge amount of strength, coordination and endurance are required to maintain all of this, especially in cold temperatures and at altitude.

This means that when compared to normal sports in normal conditions, skiing can actually place even more stress on the body, causing it to work harder and burn more calories than other forms of exercise.

But how many calories do you typically burn when doing snow sports?

How Many Calories Do You Burn on the Slopes (1)

In this guide, we’re going to look at this specifically, for each major snow sport to help you decide if you could benefit from the amazing fitness and health improvements this sport can provide. 

We’re also going to look at whether these sports are a good and practical workout, and other crucial factors to give you all the information you need about using snow sports as a means of regular exercise or weight loss.

How Many Calories Do You Burn While Skiing?

Skiing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world, and is a hugely challenging exercise in endurance and strength. It is a massively effective cardiovascular workout, as well as a strong all body muscle workout due to the fact that it uses various movements as well as a lot of stabilizing strength to keep you skiing effectively.

The act of pushing, as well as turning and skiing at speed all take huge amounts of effort and energy, and this means that skiing burns a lot of calories.

While there are factors such as weight, fitness levels, experience, and skill to take into account, as well as dietary concerns, temperature, and altitude, on average a 185lb skier can burn around 500 calories an hour while doing alpine skiing.

But even more calories are burned when walking around and carrying your equipment too, as well as the extra energy needed to keep you warm while working out in the altitude and the extreme cold.

Skill level plays a part also, as the more dynamic you are as a skier, the more calories you will burn doing more complex movements and maneuvers, and more challenging ski routes.

Is Skiing A Good Workout?

In short, yes skiing is a fantastic workout, perhaps even too much so, as this kind of heavy punishment can take a toll on the body and leave you prone to injury.

There’s a reason why skiers are often recommended to eat much more food while in the mountains, as their bodies are burning far more energy than normal, due to the sheer intensity of the exercise.

Skiing is a full body workout that targets the legs, cardiovascular system, core and upper body at the same time, which is why it burns so many calories and why it’s such a difficult sport for people who are unfit.

Do You Need Fitness to Ski?

To some extent yes, an element of fitness will make it much easier to learn and start skiing effectively.Even a basic level of cardiovascular fitness will make skiing much easier for you, but luckily skiing will improve your fitness very quickly, meaning that even the most unfit skier will likely end their holiday with much better fitness than when they started, as well as much more confidence.

Is Skiing Good for Weight Loss?

Yes, skiing is very effective for weight loss, because it burns a lot of calories per hour, and is a full body workout.

The combination of altitude, cold temperatures and long days spent doing a full body workout mean that you can drop a considerable amount of weight in a short amount of time.

However it’s also even more beneficial as it allows you to actually gain muscle and definition alongside losing weight, so it’s a win-win in terms of toning up, getting fitted and dropping a few pounds of fat.

If skiing can burn up to 500 calories per hour, and the average day’s skiing lasts for some 6 to 7 hours, then you can expect to burn anywhere around 2000 to 4000 calories a day, which is way above most people’s daily recommended calorie intake. 

This is the reason why people are told to eat so much when skiing, if they want to avoid losing weight or becoming depleted.

Even though these numbers are impressive, skiing is so intensive that eating well is a requirement to keep you strong enough to be able to withstand the rigours of the sport, but even so considerable weight loss is possible.

How Many Calories Does Snowboarding Burn?

Much like skiing, snowboarding is an excellent form of exercise that benefits from most of the same difficulty and toughness that skiing does, meaning it can really burn a lot of calories.

While it does depend somewhat on various factors such as skill, activity, weight and conditions, a 130lb person can expect to burn some 300 calories per hour when snowboarding, which is slightly less than skiing but this is because snowboarders don’t use poles and have a slightly different technique which isn’t as much of an all body workout as skiing.

Regardless, 300 calories per hour is a significant amount of calories burnt that makes snowboarding very effective as a calorie burning exercise.

Is Snowboarding Good for Weight Loss?

How Many Calories Do You Burn on the Slopes (1)

Absolutely, snowboarding can help weight loss as it burns a lot of calories and also helps build fitness and confidence.

It promotes good lower body and core strength, as well as coordination and cardiovascular fitness, and also helps develop good balance and coordination.

Snowboarding with a good diet is a great way to lose weight and is also a lot of fun, which is hugely beneficial as boredom is one of the major reasons why people fail to meet their health and fitness goals.

What Other Snowsports are Good For Weight Loss?

There are many effective snowsports that burn a lot of calories, such as;

  • Ice skating
  • Sledding
  • Ski Touring
  • Cross country skiing

Almost all of these sports are amazing at developing fitness, especially ice skating and skiing, as they develop full body strength and endurance and are a lot of fun to boot.

The downside is that it can be hard to practice these sports in certain areas, making them somewhat exclusive and expensive, meaning for a lot of people they aren’t a practical choice for regular exercise.

That being said, if you get the opportunity you should absolutely give them a try, as they can really add to your fitness and help push you further and faster.

Which Burns More Calories, Skiing or Snowboarding?

While both winter sports are very effective forms of exercise, skiing does burn more calories per hour generally, due in part to the slightly more physical technique required to ski well.

Nonetheless, both forms of exercise are immensely fun and exhilarating, and both have huge benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked if you’re curious about giving either sport a try. 

About the author

Jesse Blaine

Jesse is the owner of, contributes to a lot of the material, and directs day-to-day operations. He lives in Colorado with his wife and kids and loves the outdoors. He’s an avid skier, hiker, kiteboarder, and adventure sports explorer. Jesse has also traveled the world and lived in five different countries. He speaks several languages and loves communicating with people

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