By Kristan Zimmer

Let’s face it, working out in the winter is hard. It’s cold, dark and all you want to do is curl up with a cup of hot cocoa. Be-sides, who sees that body under all those sweaters? Regardless of the season, nothing beats running for burning calories (a nine-minute mile for 30 minutes burns close to 500), but the good news is, you’re burning calories all day, whether you make it to the gym or not.

Richard Cotton, national director of certification for the American College of Sports Medicine, shares his tips for winter fitness.

Pace Yourself
If you aren’t normally active, be aware that physical activity like shoveling snow works the heart the same as running and uses muscles you probably aren’t used to engaging. For a big snow that comes down for more than five hours, break it up into two shifts, says Cotton.

Keep Muscle Use Similar
“Your heart doesn’t know whether you are snowshoeing, ice skating, shoveling or running. It’s your muscles that determine whether you are ready for an activity. Choose a winter activity that uses the same muscles you use in summer months. Cotton suggests snowshoeing for runners, ice skating for rollerbladers and cross-country skiing for cyclists.

Watch What You Eat
Manage your caloric intake during winter months when you are not as active, says Cotton. Make adjustments, weigh yourself regularly and have protein for breakfast to prevent mid-morning hunger.

Keep Track of Your Fitness
Cotton says you should be getting 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week. For weight loss, you will need 300 minutes of moderate physical activity.

When it’s Just Too Cold
If it’s snowing, freezing or dangerously icy, don’t leave home to workout — bring the gym home. Cotton recommends the TRX Home Suspension Trainer for a full body workout or the Mag Trainer by RAD Cycle Products which turns your road bike into an indoor stationary bike.

What You Burn In 30 Minutes…

Cutting down a Christmas tree ———————–313
Snowshoeing ——————————————–248
Cross-country skiing (at a leisurely pace) ———–248
Carrying ornaments up from the basement ——–233
Skiing —————————————————–217
Sledding ————————————————–217
Shoveling the front walk ——————————186
Ice skating at the local rink —————————-171
Operating a snow blower ——————————140
Carrying small children ——————————–117
Hanging holiday lights on the house —————-109
Vacuuming ———————————————-109
Dressing the kids in their snowsuits —————-98-117
Cleaning the house ————————————93
Christmas shopping ———————————–156
Walking the dog (factoring in frequent stops!) —87
Pushing a stroller ————————————-78
Building a fire in the fireplace ———————–78
Standing around at the office holiday party ——-71
Cooking dinner —————————————–62
Sitting at a football game——————————47

*Based on the Compendium of Physical Activities Tracking Guide from the American College of Sports Medicine. This is an estimate of how many calories an average 130-pound person burns doing 30 minutes of these activities.