10 Health Benefits of Skiing
Don’t spend the winter hibernating. Get outside and take advantage of the cooler temps to hit the slopes. Here are the health benefits of skiing
It keeps you young
Not only is downhill skiing fun, it can also keep you looking and feeling young, thanks to the fitness benefits skiing provides.
In a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, researchers found that just 12 weeks of skiing had a profound impact on the health of 60 to 76-year-olds.
“In older individuals, 12 weeks of skiing leads to a significant increase in aerobic capacity, leg muscle power, and strength,” the study’s authors wrote. All things that normally decline with age.
That’s reason enough to strap on some skis and head for the hills!
It boosts your cardiovascular and muscular fitness
High aerobic capacity and muscular fitness: That’s what you can look forward to if you add endurance sports like cross-country skiing to your workout routine.
Researchers compared the fitness levels of lifelong elite endurance athletes with a group of people the same age (over 80-years-old) who never had regular workout routines. The endurance athletes (including cross-country skiers) had “remarkably high aerobic capacity” according to the study’s authors.
The takeaway? Cross-country skiing can help keep you fit well into your 80s and 90s.
It makes you happy
Want to boost your mood? Head to the ski hill and have some fun.
Researchers from Yonsei University in Korea conducted a survey of 279 visitors at three major ski resorts and discovered that skiers and snowboarders got a lot of satisfaction and pleasure from participating in these snowy sports.
“Adult playfulness can influence people’s happiness, while activities and socially convening around a sporting activity such as skiing have positive psychological outcomes and contribute to overall well-being,” says the study’s lead researcher Hyun-Woo Lee.
Time to bundle up and boost your well-being!
It improves your mental health
One simple way skiing can improve your mental health? It gets you outside in nature at a time of year you’re usually tempted to hibernate.
That’s a good thing for your mental health, according to a recent study. Researchers assigned two groups of participants to either go for a walk in nature, or go for a walk in a busy urban setting. The benefits for those that took a nature walk were numerous compared to the other group.
Along with decreased anxiety and negative self-talk, the nature walkers performed better on memory and cognition tests.
It may be tempting to stay indoors, but nature awaits at the ski hill, where you can give your mental health a boost.
It helps you burn calories
If you’re looking for a winter workout that helps you shed calories, look no further. Skiing not only burns lots of calories, it’s actually fun.
A 155-pound person can burn 223 calories in 30 minutes of downhill skiing. Given that a day at the slopes is usually at least three hours, you’ll burn a countless amount of calories (and have a big après-ski appetite to prove it).
If you opt to go cross-country skiing instead, you’ll burn 298 calories for 30 minutes spent on the trails.
Either way, it’s a guaranteed fun way to spend a winter day.
It helps you build upper body strength
If you’re after a set of strong arms, cross-country skiing can help – but only if you use those poles.
In a 2015 study comparing female and male cross-country skiers, researchers found that women rely less on poling techniques that require upper-body strength than men. As a result, men were 20 percent faster in poling exercises where upper body strength was essential.
Next time you go skiing, don’t be afraid to use your arms. Upper body strength is important in cross-country skiing. The best part? You’ll go faster when you use your poles. (Get tips on how to become a better skiier here.)
It helps beat winter depression
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, can bring even the happiest people down during winter months.
Researcher Norman Rosenthal coined the term ‘SAD’ in 1984 and has since done lots of research on how to treat it.
While his number one recommendation is light therapy, he also found that one hour of outdoor aerobic activity (even with a cloudy skies overhead) had the same benefits as 2.5 hours of light treatment indoors.
That’s enough reason to head to the ski hill, even on the gloomiest of winter days.
Moderate exercise can boost your immune system
Winter is cold and flu season, and exercise can help.
Researchers from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that regular exercisers get fewer colds than those who don’t exercise.
According to the study’s authors, “When it comes to preventing colds, it’s really important to stick with exercise long term.”
Just another excuse to head to the ski hill regularly.
Any sport, including skiing and snowboarding, encourages social interaction and bonding.
That’s good news, given that social relationships are an important indicator of happiness. According to a study published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine, social time is more rewarding than alone time.
Whether you grab a group of friends and family to head for the slopes, or just make new friends on the chairlift, it’s a great way to get social.
It helps you relax
In a Stats Canada survey most active Canadians ranked sports as an important way to relax.
Need some rest and relaxation? If you don’t have a favourite winter sport yet, consider skiing. Not only is it a fun, relaxing sport (chairlift break, anyone?) the après ski lounging isn’t bad either.
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• How to Boost Your Immunity this Winter