Physical activity during cold temperatures

Whether it is zero degrees or 100 degrees, the recommendation of 150 minutes of physical activity still remain that same.

Reaching your goal of 150 minutes of physical activity or more per week still applies when the temperatures are in the single digits or below zero. Although you may feel like hibernating, physical activity is still important.

Outdoor physical activity can be invigorating, including activities such as cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, ice skating, sledding, snowshoeing, shoveling, running/walking or even free play in the snow. The chart below shows the average calories burned per hour for various winter activities and various weights. 

Physical activity

 

Calories burned per hour, per weight

130 pounds

155 pounds 180 pounds 205 pounds

Cross-country skiing, moderate pace

 472

 563

 654

 743

Downhill skiing, moderate pace

354

422

490

558

Ice hockey

472

563

654

745

Ice skating, moderate speed

413

493

572

651

Sledding

413

493

572

651

When being active outdoors it is important to wear the correct protective attire, including gloves, a hat, warm socks and appropriate boots or shoes. It is appropriate to layer clothing so that if you begin to sweat you can decrease the layers. Breathable layers can provide your body opportunity to immediately dry the sweat instead of allowing it to chill your body. You also need to continue to drink water, although you may not be thirsty.

It is important to be aware of the symptoms of hypothermia. Michigan State University Extension identifies signs of hypothermia as intense shivering, loss of coordination and fatigue. Pay attention to your area’s weather forecast and use common sense when faced with extreme weather conditions. For more information on hypothermia visit Mayo Clinic.

 If the wind chill, freezing rains/sleet or snow accumulation does not allow for outdoor activities, try an indoor physical activity. This can include using a treadmill, visiting a gym, following a workout video at home, lifting weights at home or just having a dance party!

 MSU Extension offers nutrition education classes for adults and youth that include information on positive dietary lifestyle habits that will provide education on physical activity. More information can be found at http://msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/nutrition.