5 Winter Workouts You Didn’t Even Know You Were Doing

If there's an upside to winter, it's that all of the chores count towards your daily physical activity.

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Winter workouts - hanging Christmas lights
Photo: mooremedia / Shutterstock.com

Hanging Your Christmas Lights

What you’re working: Climbing up and down a ladder and holding your arms overhead makes for a fairly strenuous activity, according to Vancouver-based personal trainer and fitness writer Krista Popowych. “You’re using a lot of upper-body strength. People are going to feel it in their shoulders the next day,” she says.

Calories burned: If you weigh around 130 pounds, 310 calories per hour. If you’re 155 pounds, it’s 369.

Amp it up: Offer to hang lights for your elderly neighbours—it’ll lengthen your workout and bring good karma.

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Winter workouts - man shovelling snow
Photo: SpeedKingz / Shutterstock.com

Digging Your Car Out of the Snow

What you’re working: Don’t grimace at your car piled high after the season’s first big snowfall. Unburying it will work all of your major muscle groups—arms, shoulders, back, legs and core—”because you’re twisting to throw snow out of the way,” says Popowych. Be sure to watch your form: bending at the knees and keeping the weight of the snow close to your body will help prevent back strain. (Be sure to avoid these common snow removal mistakes.)

Calories burned: If you’re about 130 pounds, you’ll burn about 350 calories per hour; and if you’re about 155, you’ll burn about 407.

Amp it up: Wet snow, which is much heavier than powder, will give you a tougher workout.

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Winter workouts - couple building a snowman
Photo: Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock.com

Building a Snowman

What you’re working: This activity is low on intensity, high on family fun. Still, rolling the snow will use your upper body; packing the snow down will be good for your core and arms; and lifting the snowballs onto one another will make use of your biceps and leg muscles.

Calories burned: For a 130-pound person, about 236 calories per hour. For someone who weighs 155 pounds, 281 calories.

Amp it up: The more trudging through the snow required, the more you will use your legs.

Find out what happens to your body when you start walking 10,000 steps a day.

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Woman in snowshoes on hike through wilderness
Photo: Maridav / Shutterstock.com

Going for a Snowshoe

What you’re working: Snow-shoeing is the king of winter activities. You burn more calories going for a ‘shoe than you do walking, running or cross-country skiing at the same pace, Popowych says. Going up and down hills and breaking trail all work different muscles in your legs. Added plus: the low-impact cardio won’t be too tough on your body.

Calories burned: At 130 pounds, you’ll burn about 472 calories in an hour; and at 155 pounds, 563 calories.

Amp it up: Add walking poles to make this a full-body workout and a perfect substitute for the gym.

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Man chopping wood in winter
Photo: Nikoleta Vukovic / Shutterstock.com

Chopping Wood

What you’re working: This activity is intense and similar to circuit training in that the motion is repetitive, but the chopping is done in intervals. Raising the axe uses biceps and core muscles, and triceps and hip flexors are activated during the swing motion.

Calories burned: Between 400 and 500 calories per hour.

Amp it up: Post-chop, hauling and lifting will work quads and hamstrings, too.

Next, find out five daily habits that keep your muscles strong.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada

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