Running outside this time of year can be rough, but the “dreadmill” isn’t your only option for cardio exercise when the weather turns frightful
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The brand new Zero Runner ($3,299; zerorunner.com) by Octane Fitness reinvents indoor running with a non-impact machine that lets you "run on air." The machine’s mechanical hip and knee "joints" move with your own running gait, right down to your natural foot strike, instead of using the set range of motion elliptical machines offer. Manually powered (there's no motor), the machine is whisper quiet. Plus, the SmartLink app traces your stride, analyzing gait length and height. You’ll burn approximately 100 calories per mile depending on your weight and activity level, which is similar to running, Octane Fitness says. So, a 3-mile, 30-minute “run” will toast roughly 300 calories.
Photo: Octane Fitness
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Rowing isn’t just for prep school types anymore. Indoor rowing classes are popping up around the U.S., thanks to the sport’s growth in NCAA competition, proliferation in CrossFit workouts, and, yes, the hit movie The Social Network. Hit the ergometer at your gym or try a class at a studio like CityRow in New York City. With a stroke that engages your legs, back, and arms, rowing uses 84 percent of your muscles for a full body workout that zaps an average of 316 calories in a half hour, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School.
Deep Water Running
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Strap on a flotation belt like the Classic AquaJogger ($53; aquajogger.com) and head to your local pool. Running in place in the water is the closest non-impact running simulation you’ll find. Many gyms and running clubs even offer classes that will lead you through interval training, imaginary cross country courses, and sprints, not unlike your favorite spin class. Though it won’t feel as difficult as running on land, you’ll burn just as much fuel thanks to the natural resistance of the water, averaging 345 calories in a 30-minute workout. Add in water shoes and water weights for more variety.
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Snowshoeing is having a moment. More than four million Americans traipsed through snow in 2012, up from 2.4 million in 2007, according to the Outdoor Foundation. And snowshoes have come a long way from the wood-frame tennis rackets of yore—now, there are three types of aluminum models made for recreational hiking, running, and backpacking in deep powder. Pick up a pair starting around $100 from a store like Eastern Mountain Sports or rent a pair for as little as $10 from most major outdoor retailers and Nordic centers. You could burn up to 500 calories in 30-minutes while participating in the 6,000-year-old sport, depending on the terrain, your weight, and speed. One study found that women burn approximately 375 calories in 30 minutes while snowshoeing at a 20-minute per mile pace, the equivalent of running 10-minute miles. Find a snowshoeing trail at xcski.org or a race at snowshoeracing.com.
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There’s a reason spinning is so popular: A vigorous workout on an indoor stationery bike blasts an average of 391 calories in 30 minutes. Use the bike in your gym, buy an indoor trainer for your own wheels, or head to a spin class at a national chain like Flywheel, where you’ll ride in a stadium-style setting to carefully curated beats made to optimize your sweat sesh. There’s a spinning class for every type of rider, whether you’re looking to recreate real-life cycling courses or incorporate some weight training into your cardio burn.
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A long list of elite runners like Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi swear by the ElliptiGO (starting at $1,799; ElliptiGO.com) as a running alternative. The elliptical bike mimics running outdoors without the impact, making it a great cross-training tool. Best of all, the ElliptiGO burns 33 percent more calories at the same speed than traditional cycling. You can torch more than 300-600 calories in just a half hour. Check out ElliptiGO’s Calorie Calculator to see how it compares to running and cycling for your weight and speed.
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A true full-body workout, cross-country skiing challenges you to push and pull your body across the snow in one of two styles: classical or skate skiing. You’ll burn 300 calories in 30 minutes during a hearty workout of the classical Nordic style and more than 500 calories if you’re going all-out. Head to an area with groomed trails or ski resort with a Nordic center (the Cross Country Ski Areas Association maintains a searchable database of 350 locations in North America). The average cost of a trail pass is $12; throw in a ski rental and starter lesson for an average of $35. A new set of skis, boots, and poles from an outfitter like REI will set you back at least $300, but renting is a great option too.
Photo: Getty Images
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When it comes to zapping calories through traditional activities, only vigorous road cycling matches running at the fastest speeds, according to Harvard Medical School researchers. Riding at 20 mph will burn the same amount of calories as running at a six-minute mile pace:, oran average of 614 calories in 30 minutes. More moderate cycling at 14-16 mph correlates to running 10-minute miles at 372 calories per half hour. Want to split the difference? You can toast 409-539 calories running between 7-9-minute miles or cycling between 16-20 mph. An entry-level road bike starts around $500 and many bike shops rent for as little as $10 for two hours.
Photo: Getty Images