Introduction: The risk factors for cardiovascular diseases increase further and further in the modern societies. One of the major risk factors is physical inactivity which is even more pronounced during the winter months especially in countries with tempered climate. Therefore the aim of this study was to investigate the metabolic and cardiovascular effects of winter sports like alpine skiing (AS) and cross-country skiing (XCS), which could potentially fill the physical activity deficit during this problematic season. To estimate the efficiency of these two exercise modes, they have been compared to indoor cycling training (IC) which could be seen as the gold standard of recreational sports. Methods: Nineteen healthy participants performed randomized AS, XCS and IC training sessions with three 4-min stages at low (LOW), moderate (MOD) and high (HIGH) intensity. Prior to testing, a medical examination and a ramp test on the cycle ergometer to collect VO2max, blood lactate (BLA) and heart rate (HR) values were performed. During training sessions, oxygen uptake (VO2), energy expenditure (EE), HR, BLA, blood glucose (BG) and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) were determined for each intensity level. After HIGH also the excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) was measured. Results: VO2 and EE values were higher in IC and XCS compared to AS. In AS a shift to the next higher intensity level is necessary to obtain the same EE as during IC or XCS (e.g. XCS at LOW comparable to AS at MOD). Under respect of unavoidable break times during AS (chair lift etc.) an AS session has to last approximately 2.5 hrs to be isocaloric compared to a 1 hr XCS session. RPE of the whole body was similar in all three exercise modes. HR, VO2, BLA, BG and RPE of the arms were highest in XCS. RPE of legs were higher during AS and IC. Young, fit and male participants were able to exhaust them harder and therefore had highest metabolic values. Conclusions: AS and XCS are both s uitable recreational exercise modes also for an older population. For highest effects, skill levels especially in AS but also in XCS have to be high. Although RPE of the whole body during XCS werent increased, the physiologic responses (BLA, BG, HR and VO2) were partially higher compared to the other exercise modes. Therefore XCS can be highly recommended as an efficient way to preserve the health status or even decrease risk factors during winter.