Tone your upper and lower body with this fun outdoor winter sport.


Downhill skiing is a blast, but if you're not in the mood to race against frigid winds or deal with crazy crowded lift lines, try cross-country skiing this winter. It may not be speedy, but cross-country skiing will tone your upper and lower body, give you a great cardio workout, and burns over 500 calories in one hour!

Like snowshoeing, cross-country is more social than downhill skiing since conversations aren't limited to just time riding the lift. You get to slush along snow-covered trails and gab while taking in the breathtaking scenery. Plus, there is no expensive lift ticket needed. Some find cross-country more comfortable than downhill skiing because the boots are more flexible and the skis lightweight. Ready to get started? Here are some tips for newbies.

  • First, find some cross-country trails. Some downhill-ski resorts have groomed trails, but also check out nature centers or parks where you hike in the Summer. You might have to pay a fee (around $15 to $30) to use the grounds. Don't be shy about asking the staff to point you toward the easier trails.
  • Rent boots, skis, and poles at the place where you're skiing, but if this isn't possible, rent equipment the day before from a gear store; rentals are about $15 a day.
  • Definitely head out with someone who has some cross-country skiing experience or take a lesson to learn the basic techniques for moving, slowing down, stopping, and getting up hills.
  • Even though it's cold, don't overdress. Unlike downhill skiing, where you're dealing with wind, waiting in lift lines, and sitting on a cold ski lift, you're constantly moving when cross-country skiing. Dress slightly warmer than if you were heading out for a Winter run. Slip on warm wool socks and wicking baselayers-both tops and bottoms. Next come waterproof snowpants, a fleece pullover (if it's really cold), and a windbreaker or lightweight jacket over that. Wear a hat and mittens and you should be good to go.
  • Carry a lightweight backpack filled with essentials: water, snacks, tissues, a camera, your cell phone, or whatever else you'll need.
  • Aim to ski on a day after it's just snowed. Fluffy snow is much easier to ski on compared to an icy trail.
  • Go at your own pace. It takes a little while to figure out the rhythm of how to move your arms and legs, so start off slow. Choose a short trail that will only take about an hour, and the next time you go, increase the distance.

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