Whether your motivation is the polar vortex or your Olympic spirit, these workouts burn serious calories.

With the winter weather now upon us, some of you may be seeing your workouts fall by the wayside. It’s cold outside, and after a long day at work all you feel like doing is coming home, curling up in front of the fire place and reading a good book, not making the trip to the gym and fending off cold weather.

Rather than forcing yourself into the gym to perform your cardio activities, consider taking your workout outside. By going outside, you’ll still get the great physical benefits of cardio training indoors but will get a change of scenery that may just keep you motivated to press onward. You'll even add the benefit of burning more calories in the frigid temperatures!

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Ice skating

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Photo credit: Caroline Woodham/Photodisc/Getty Images

The first outdoor winter activity to consider is ice skating. Ice skating is a great way to strengthen the lower body muscles as it’ll target your glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves and core as well as all the muscles running up and down the spinal column.

Skating can be done individually, or you can get a group of friends together and have a game of shinny hockey.

Both options can easily burn up to 400 or more calories per hour, so you’ll see great fat-loss results when you include this one activity in your workout plan.

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Skiing

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Photo credit: Noah Clayton/Photodisc/Getty Images

Skiing is one of the more intense winter activities that you can do, and if done with enough intensity you can burn 600-700 calories per hour!

With skiing, you’ll have the option of downhill or cross-country, both offering their unique benefits. Cross-country skiing is one of the absolute best cardiovascular workouts that you can do, while downhill or alpine skiing will be excellent for testing your balance and agility.

Both of these variations will work all the lower body muscles and the core muscles, as well as the back, chest and shoulders so they’re really a terrific full-body workout. Just don't get too carried away with the Olympics; unless you're an expert, avoid the moguls and ski jumping!

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Snowshoeing

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Photo credit: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Snowshoeing is an excellent choice for those who are a little fearful of skiing due to the fact that falling can become quite painful. Over time, with snowshoeing you’ll still burn almost the same number of calories.

Snowshoeing can also be done almost anywhere, so it’s a great option for those who don’t have a ski hill close by.

Plus, the equipment is slightly cheaper than skiing, so it's good for those on a budget.

Snowshoeing will get your heart rate up and keep it there while working all the muscles in the lower body as well as the core. You’re easily looking at around a 500-600 calorie burn per hour with this activity.

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Snow shoveling

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While it may not top the list of fun winter activities you could be doing, show shoveling is something that must get done from time to time. It will provide you with an incredibly excellent workout, so it can't be overlooked.

Shoveling snow is a better workout for the upper body compared to all the previous activities, so in that regard it’s a good one to have in your plan for a "change it up."

A warning: Always lift from the upper body muscles and the legs, rather than from the back. If you’re bending over too far and lifting upwards from your back, this is placing the body in quite a compromised position.

Also, be sure that you’re stabilizing yourself with the lower body before you shovel. This will reduce the chances of slipping and falling, potentially causing injury.

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Tobogganing

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Photo credit: Laurie and Charles/Photodisc/Getty Images

Finally, the last of the winter activities is tobogganing. Skeleton is an Olympic sport loosely based on this childhood pastime, seen above, so it can be taken seriously! if you happen to have kids, take them out one afternoon to take part in the fun.

Climbing up the hills is a fantastic glute-strengthening exercise, so if you want a firm backside, it’s a form of exercise that you’ll definitely want to turn to.

Regular hill climbing is great for the lower body. With this exercise, you’ll also have the resistance of the snow, so you get that added benefit as well.

Think of this more like an interval training session, as you’ll have the work period (hill climbing) and rest period (sliding down the hill).