We can’t all be Olympians.
But we couch-bound Olympics-watchers can still reap serious health benefits from trying out some of the sports in play at the Winter Games.
We’ve rounded up nine of the most exciting winter sports to determine about how many calories you’d burn based on a metric called METs.
We calculated how much the average Joe and Jane USA might burn doing each Olympian-style sport for 60 minutes. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American woman weighs about 168.5 pounds (~76kg), and the average man is somewhere around 195.7 lbs (~89 kg), so we’ve used those weights.
The calorie estimates are based on a tool built by researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Arizona State University. Of course, they aren’t perfect, and the numbers would likely be different based on your fitness, age, and other factors.
But with that in mind, take a look at what a spin around the rink or slide down an icy chute could do for your body.
Travelling around the ice at 9 miles an hour or less (that’s a regular pace, not an Olympic one) burns around 490 calories for an average man, and 418 for a woman.
In an hour of consistent movement on the ice, you’re probably expending around 5.5 METs. By comparison, competitive speed skaters and ice dancers can burn up to 14 METs an hour.
When people really get moving, ice skating and ice dancing can be some of the most intense winter sports.
For average Americans, an hour of ski jumping burns 532 calories for a woman and 623 for a man.
Carrying your skis up the hill then hurling yourself off the top can blow through energy – around 7 METs an hour.
If you want to calculate how many calories you might burn in your own hourlong ski-jumping session, multiply your weight, in kilograms, by the MET of 7.
A typical American adult skiing down the slopes at a race pace would burn 608 calories for women and 712 for men.
But that estimate is for someone speeding downhill with their most vigorous effort.
Mikaela Shiffrin, who won a gold medal in giant slalom and a silver medal in women’s combined alpine skiing at Pyeongchang, eats 3,000 calories a day to fuel her impressive runs down the mountains.
But how much people burn skiing and snowboarding depends a lot on how fast they go and how fit they are. Skiing can plow through up to 8 METs in an hourlong race, or as little as 4.3 METs if you exert just a light effort.
If you’re taking it slow, you’d burn closer to 327 calories for women and 383 for men.
Again, multiply your weight in kilograms by the MET to find your hourly calorie burn.
Similar to ski jumping, an hour of luging burns 532 calories for an average-sized American woman and 623 for a man in an hour.
Luging burns about 7 METs an hour.
Erin Hamlin, who carried the flag for Team USA at the opening ceremonies, might look like she’s just laying there in the photo above, but her metabolism’s really moving. Unfortunately, she didn’t score another medal in South Korea this year, but did win bronze in Sochi four years ago.
If average Americans are enjoying the scenery while cross country skiing, they’re probably moving at a leisurely 2.5 miles per hour. In that case, a woman burns around 517 calories, and a man uses 605 calories every hour.
Cross-country skiing exertion also depends on how much ‘oomph’ you bring to the trail.
Someone shuffling along at a 2.5 mph pace might only burn 6.8 METs, while elite skiers can churn through 15 METs an hour.
If a person of average American weight were going at that Olympic pace, a woman would burn a whopping 1,140 calories in an hour, and a man would burn 1,335.
Competitive speed skating is a great workout: An American woman on the ice could burn around 1,011 calories an hour, while a man might blaze through 1,184.
At 13.3 METs, that burns almost as much fuel as a cross country ski race.
An average woman doing a biathlon race burns up 1,026 calories an hour, while a man would char through somewhere around 1,202.
Biathlon isn’t just about shooting at targets – you have to have a lot of endurance to ski a cross-country race with a rifle strapped on your back.
To calculate a rough estimate for how many calories you’d burn per hour as a biathlete, multiply your weight in kilos by 13.5 (the MET number).
Snowboarding doesn’t tend to burn a ton of calories. The average American man might burn somewhere between 383-472 calories an hour, while a woman’s range might be more like 327-403.
Still, that’s more of a workout than you’d get from watching others blow through the powder on TV.
Curling burns almost as many calories as gentle skiing: 356 calories an hour for an average man, and 304 for a woman.
Curling involves throwing a granite rock down on the ice and sweeping it around.
Olympians can really push around a lot of energy on the ice this way, as many as 7.5 METs, but for most of us, curling is a 4 MET sport.
While most Americans haven’t tried this Olympic sport, they may be familiar with another winter activity that also requires pushing a heavy piece of machinery around and shuffling along behind it: snow-blowing.
That “sport” burns 2.5 METs an hour, around 190 calories for an average woman snow-blower, and 223 for a man.
So go ahead, pick out a favourite winter sport – or a household sport – and give it try!
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