Health & Fitness

By Jennifer Wright

Exercising in the middle of a frigid New York winter can seem like a pretty bitter ordeal. With swimsuit season still a distant prospect, a lot of us want nothing more than to stay cuddled under a quilt at home. Ditch the comforters and check out these fun, fantastic, calorie-burning, healthy winter activities that are sure to get you energized and out of that cold winter-blues funk.

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Ice Skating – Skating is a classic New York pastime and one which can help strengthen muscles and increase flexibility while burning anywhere from 250 to 810 calories an hour. Those of us who want to work on their inner thighs, adductors, hamstrings, glute muscles or lower back can benefit tremendously from skating. You might even want to check out the morning workout sessions with Jojo Starbuck being offered at Rockefeller Center.

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Kissing – Anyone delighted by the abundance of mistletoe will be pleased to know that kissing can burn 6 to 12 calories a kiss. It also prevents plaque buildup, which means fewer trips to the dentist, and releases adrenaline, which can increase your heart rate. So keep an eye out for that special…ahem…’work-out’ partner when nearing a sprig of mistletoe.

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Sledding – Head over to Pilgrim’s Hill in Central Park for some magnificent sledding. Going uphill will provide a solid cardiovascular workout, as well as strengthening your quadriceps. Depending upon the rate with which you walk, and the steepness of the hill you choose, sledding will allow you to burn around 450 calories per hour.

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Build a Snowman – Rather than cursing the snow, take advantage of it by building a snowman. The effort of transporting snow and packing snow can help tone your arms and abs. 80 minutes spent building a snowman can burn off around 325 calories, which is enough to allow you to savor a delicious slice of holiday fruitcake.

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Snowball fights – Need an incentive to run around? Challenge someone to a snowball fight. It can burn off between 400 and 750 calories an hour. Vigorous throwing can also allow you to work out your arms and increase hand eye coordination. Just watch out for any headshots!

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Hot Cocoa Sipping – While you won’t burn calories sipping cocoa (though at only 90 calories a glass it is a low calorie alternative to many winter beverages) studies show that it may improve your blood pressure and glucose metabolism. The epicatechin found in cocoa may also reduce the risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes. With nearly twice the antioxidants found in red wine, cocoa is a perfect beverage to come home to after spending the day frolicking in the snow.

So while the weather outside may be frightful these activities should leave you in terrific shape, and that will certainly be delightful.

Originally published January 2008
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