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How Many Calories do You Burn Skiing Downhill

  • Filip 

Alpine skiing burns an average 350 calories per hour. One day with 4 hours skiing gives you a good chance of losing around 1400 calories. If you ski for 6 hours one day, these 6 hours of skiing can burn around 1600 calories on an average. Alpine skiing is a good full body workout.

You are a skiing enthusiast who loves to hit the mountains and race your way amidst the snow for a long time. Skiing has a lot of added health benefits and helps in shedding the extra pounds depending on the intensity and the duration of doing this sport. Skiing and snowboarding are considered to be some of the best winter workouts that help in burning calories. Isn’t it great to have a workout session that is so much fun and automatically helps in burning calories?

Man skiing downhill and burning calories

You need to keep in mind that the amount of calories you burn while skiing depends on several factors. It varies from person to person. Downhill skiing is one of the most effective winter sports that help in shedding a lot of pounds per hour. It involves both aerobic and anaerobic set of movements which makes it a wholesome training for burning calories.

Factors impacting the amount of calories you burn

Harvard Medical School has conducted elaborate research and created a table stating the number of calories burnt based on certain activities. Despite this, different people will have different reactions to the number of hours they put behind downward skiing.

You can read about some different skiing techniques at Wikipedia’s website:

The factors which decide the number of calories burnt while skiing are:

The body type

Does your body type lie more on the obese side of the spectrum? Do you exhibit a lean configuration? Do you have a normal Body Mass Index but you are a bit on the flabbier side?

These factors play a role in determining the number of pounds you shed while skiing.

Body weight

It has been found in the research that while skiing, a person having high weight sheds more calories than a person with a comparatively lower weight. According to the table created by Harvard Medical School, a person weighing 185 to 190 pounds stands to burn around 532 calories on an hourly basis. A person weighing 155 to 160 pounds sheds around 446 calories on an hourly basis. On the other hand, a person who weighs around 125 to 130 pounds has a chance of shedding around 360 calories in an hour.

So the body weight and the number of calories burnt during downward skiing show a directly proportionate relationship.

Number of hours spent skiing

It depends on your stamina and perseverance regarding how many hours of skiing can you perform per day. If you can manage to ski for about 4 hours a day, you have a good chance of losing around 1400 calories which is a commendable feat. Depending on your level of expertise, you can push yourself a notch higher and ski for around 6 hours a day. This duration does not include the time taken by you to climb uphill through the lift.

Now, you also need to keep in mind the body weight and body type factors. For people having medium to heavy bodyweight, skiing for about 6 hours a day can make you lose anywhere between 1200 to 2000 calories. One day with 6 hours of skiing can burn around 1600 calories on an average.

Level of intensity

Burning calories also depend upon the intensity level of skiing. The intensity level varies according to the level of expertise a person has with skiing through the terrains. There are 3 levels of intensity that you can try while skiing downhill based on your comfort level.

1. Low intensity or low effort – In case of low intensity or low effort, you can ski over wide snow beds or groomers where you will get a lot of space to maneuver or careen easily. There is a possibility of burning 250 to 300 calories per hour if you exhibit a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) or weigh around 150 pounds.

2. Medium intensity or moderate effort– You can try a variety of moguls and groomers for a moderate 3 hours per day. In this case, you stand a chance to burn around 325 to 400 calories depending upon your BMI.

3. High intensity or vigorous effort– This level of skiing and exercising is basically performed by experienced skiers and snowboarders. Here you need to hit the steeps where you have to put in extra efforts with your skiing rods to control your movements. In this level of effort, you can burn around 405 to 610 calories an hour based on your BMI.

Benefits of downhill skiing

Downhill skiing is a good full body workout. It is a perfect combination of tolerance, stamina, and resistance exercises. The training movements will give you an equivalent workout of cardio and cycling activities. Downhill skiing also instills a sense of good balance and agility. You need to dash through the moguls and groomers and navigate yourself through the steep terrains. The health benefits of this skiing technique are immense. It is like you are doing complete cardio training with weights and resistance instruments in your gym.

Here are some of the benefits of downhill skiing:

  • It enhances your body balance and increases your overall agility.
  • It boosts your energy levels. You will find yourself more active and energetic in your day to day activities
  • Downhill Skiing is excellent for your cardiovascular health. It improves blood circulation and increases the stamina level. You will be able to intake a lot of oxygen that will automatically improve your stamina. It also aids in the proper functioning of all the organ systems of your body.
  • It provides an amazing workout for your lower body area and helps in toning hamstrings, thighs, buttocks, calf muscles, quadriceps, and gluteal muscles.
  • It helps in burning a lot of calories. You will find yourself without your stubborn fat after a few days of ski training.
  • It helps in exercising your abdominal muscles which increases the core strength of your body.

Harvard Medical School has found that a person who weighs 180 pounds can reduce at least 266 calories in 30 minutes while doing downward skiing. Skiing downhill does burn in average 350 calories per hour for skiiers. A person having an average weight of 150 pounds can easily burn around 325 calories per hour by doing medium intensity ski training.

As mentioned earlier, the amount of calories you burn depends upon the body weight and intensity of training. It has been seen that a person weighing on the higher side, like around 200 pounds and above, burns more calories than the person having a normal BMI. People weighing higher than 200 pounds can burn one third more calories than the average rate on an hourly basis.

You need to keep in mind that the hours mentioned do not include the time you take to travel in the lift and resting in between.

An overview of uphill Skiing

If you want to take your skiing routine a notch higher and have an exhaustive workout session, you can go for uphill skiing or skinning. In case of downward skiing, some part of the movement is taken care of by the gravity but uphill skiing is a different routine altogether. An average built person weighing 150 to 160 pounds can lose up to 20 calories per minute. A comparatively heavier built person will lose more than 20 calories per minute.

Uphill skinning is an extensive workout which is equivalent to going for cross-country skiing. The calorie loss can also be equated to running on plains at a speed of 5 miles each minute. The upward skiing exercises your thighs, hamstrings, and bottoms. In this type of skiing, your biceps, triceps, and shoulders get a good amount of resistance and tolerance training.

How to stay hydrated while skiing

One of the most important factors you need to keep in mind while skiing is to drink lots of water and stay hydrated. You need to remember the fact that you are doing the skiing activity on mountainous terrains which can be a bit draining for your body. Mountainous terrains not only demand a lot of energy for walking through the steep areas but also have very low temperatures that can give you chills.

You might also like our article: how to carry water when skiing.

Water helps in maintaining the normal body temperature so that you do not succumb to the cold. Lack of fluids in your body will result in muscle cramps and joint pains. So it is very important to be hydrated throughout your skiing sojourn to avoid:

  • Feeling extremely cold
  • Succumbing to muscle cramps and joint pains
  • Feeling giddy while racing through the snowy terrains

You can stay hydrated by:

  • Keeping away from alcohol and caffeine, like tea or coffee, before your skiing trip. You must be thinking, “How do I keep myself warm then?” You can drink lots of hot water, hot soup, and warm chocolate drinks while you are in the mountains.
  • Drink lots of water when you wake up in the morning. Also, do ensure to attend to nature’s call before going skiing. You wouldn’t want to rush to relieve yourself after every run.
  • Wear light padding and reduce the layer of clothing. Despite the cold, you will tend to sweat a lot which can dehydrate you.
  • Take some fluids with you while you go skiing.


Through this article, you must have got an overview of the toiling and sweating that goes behind skiing. By now you must have got an idea about the number of calories you can burn while downward and uphill skiing. So the next time you go on a skiing trip you will feel good that you get to burn a lot of calories while having fun at the same time.