Burn Calories and Lose Weight with Cross-Country Skiing

Probably one of the most common New Year’s resolution is to lead a healthier lifestyle and to lose weight. These noble goals are however often abandoned after seemingly pointless hours of working out in a gym. Cross-country skiing is a true alternative for weight loss and burning calories, and if you go through this 5 minutes read, you’ll know why.

5 Reasons Why Burning Calories Cross-Country Skiing is Better

The problem lies in the fact that if you are not a born and bred athlete with fierce determination and stamina, you will not enjoy working out for the sake of getting a fitter, healthier body.

If you don’t truly enjoy what you do, then sooner or later you will give up your long-term goal. This is when a motivating and fun sport should take the place of gym exercises, and make you feel burning those calories a worthwhile activity.

Cross-country skiing is one of the best ways to burn calories and lose weight for the following 5 reasons.

1. How Many Calories Does Cross-Country Skiing Burn?

You probably already know that cross-country skiing burns more calories than downhill skiing. An average 180 lb person can burn 572 calories each hour even by slow, low-intensity cross-country skiing, and even more (654 calories/h) if he or she increases intensity. A 205 lb person can burn 651 and 745 calories / hour with the same level of intensity, respectively.

Yet, cross-country skiing is still an effective workout even in low to moderate intensity. In fact, many Olympic champion cross-country skiers’ training usually involve low to moderate intensity skiing in 60-70%.

After getting familiar with the various types of terrain, an average hour of Nordic skiing on alternating terrain will help you burn around 700-800 calories in a single hour meanwhile also increasing your heart rate in between the aerobic and anaerobic zones.

For losing weight, this is the optimal place to start, since this is when your body burns fat most effectively.
xc ski weight lose chart

After getting familiar with the chart above, you should calculate the calories you could burn (or you already have) with cross-country skiing using our calorie calculator.

Calorie Calculator for Cross-Country Skiing

Use our calorie calculator below to calculate how many calories do you burn while cross-country skiing with high accuracy.

  • Choose a unit of measurement (metric or imperial),
  • Provide your gender, age, weight and height to calculate your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate),
  • Provide the duration (hours/minutes) and the intensity of your cross-country ski session.
  • Click ‘Submit’.
  • Add a new session with the same personal data, or
  • Click ‘Calculate Total Calories’.

Calorie Calculator for Cross-Country Skiing

  Intensity Duration Calories Burned

2. It’s a Full Body Workout

Cross-country skiing also doesn’t let any of your major muscle groups get lazy, however after each stride or kick there’s a fun gliding, and while your lower limbs relax, your arms, chest and back muscles do the poling. There’s a nice rhythm to it.

Cross-country skiing works not only the upper body or lower body, like when you do rowing or running, but both, and even the core muscles are actively involved. Meanwhile, it is not simply about strength, but it’s also an endurance and cardiovascular training! Cross country skiing involves every single muscle group and inch of your body, and the best is that you can choose your own pace to it. You don’t necesserily need to do a high intensity aerobic fitness session from the very start (you couldn’t), since low and moderate intensity skiing is much more rewarding in the long run.

3. It’s Easy On Your Joints

Skiing is often belived to have a negative impact on your joints. Cross-country skiing doesn’t. In fact, nordic skiing is widely regarded as a low impact activity. Especially if someone has a couple of extra pounds, they have a valid fear of getting hurt in high intensity activities. However, if you warm up before each skiing session, and if you do the techniques properly, you shouldn’t have any knee problems.

Remember, if you do want to increase the level of intensity, do it slowly and only if lower intensity sessions no longer strain you.

4. It Gives You Confidence

There is nothing more rewarding than conquering a hill on a pair of skis in a harsh and snowy winter. Even more so, if at the moment you cannot possibly think that you could do something like that in the near future. Meanwhile cross-country skiing secretly improves your cardiovascular health, it also very effectively builds endurance and stamina, and contributes to your mental health.

Cross-Country Skiers at Whistler
Cross-country skiers on the trail – Image Courtesy of Whistler Tourism Office

Always set goals that are within your reach, and always push your limits just a little bit farther. After acquiring the basic techniques, start out at an easy, flat trail to see how much distance you can put behind yourself with just kicking and gliding. It will definitely change your perspective on life.

5. A Year-Round Outdoor Activity

Yes! Contrary to the popular belief, you can do cross-country skiing even in summer. Although roller skiing or skiing on wheels is not the same as snow cross-country skiing, but it is still a valid alternative to keep your nordic muscles in shape until the next winter season.

Both roller skiing or using a ski machine offer the same advantages as cross-country skiing, while they also require the same technique, and even share some of the equipment.

If you love what you do, then you will keep doing it. And in this case, you can keep doing it in the off-season.

Going to a gym, or simply working out in an enclosed space can be frustrating and not at all motivating. But the sheer fact that you are skiing on snow covered trails, that you are going somewhere, that you have a goal or a view to get to makes it much more rewarding than simply counting calories.

Closing Thoughts

It must be clear by now how beneficial is cross-country skiing itself as well as the whole Nordic lifestyle it comes with it to your entire body and overall health. Cross-country skiing is a high energy cost sport, so you also need to change your diet to combat the strain your physical wellbeing will be put under.

Slowly conditioning your body and mind to the regular tasks of training and getting yourself ready for a fun new activity will change your life. And if you finally get on the cross country skis, you won’t be able to stop. Get your friends and family to join, and you will ensure that the healthy, athletic lifestyle you lead will be a shared passion for all.