For many people, winter is a time to gather blankets, thick wool socks, and other winter apparel to stay warm and prevent winter colds and flu. For others, the first sight of snow signifies it’s time to reach for ski gear. Most people ski because of the excitement it provides. However, while enjoying themselves on the slopes, skiers’ bodies and minds are also positively affected.
According to the University of New Hampshire, skiing is a proprioceptive activity, which refers to one’s ability to sense the movements, actions, and position of one’s body. Since skiing requires a lot of balance and coordination, participants pay close attention to their bodies. Proprioception tends to decline as people get older, but participating in an activity like skiing can ensure it lasts much longer.
As a cardiovascular and aerobic exercise, skiing helps work the heart, making it stronger and more effective. Skiing increases cardiovascular endurance, which in turn increases heart rate and boosts its performance in delivering more oxygen to the muscles and capillaries, and ultimately benefits the whole cardiovascular system at the same time. To increase your cardiovascular endurance even further when skiing, try walking up the slopes instead of using ski lifts. You’ll need to apply a lot more energy and exercise a significant level of endurance.
Most health benefits of skiing are physical. Typically, skiers maintain a squat position when they ski, which means the lower body bears the pressure of the majority of the body’s weight. The task is even more challenging when skiers have to turn their skis to maneuver down mountainsides while also moving quickly and turning their bodies in the process. This helps work lower muscles such as the inner thighs, glutes, quads, and hamstrings. It also strengthens the knee and other bones because of the amount of pressure exerted.
Another crucial physical health benefit of skiing is that it helps burn calories, aiding weight loss much like many outdoor activities. Research has shown that a 185-pound individual can burn up to 266 calories in just 30 minutes of skiing downhill, depending on the level of experience. More experienced skiers exploring steeper slopes burn more calories than beginners skiing nursery slopes.
An activity like skiing is one of the best ways to fall asleep and get quality rest. This is because it is intense and physically demanding, requiring a lot of energy which usually leads to exhaustion after exploring the slopes. Also, skiing is an effective way to boost the mood. Intense outdoor activities like skiing increase the number of happy hormones the body produces. These hormones create a feeling of happiness and relief from anxiety as skiers focus their minds on the task at hand.
In addition to sleep and mood benefits, skiing is a great way to tap into the benefits of vitamin D, which sunlight provides. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that helps protect teeth and bones. However, it becomes less available during winter, as there is relatively less sunlight than in warmer seasons (i.e., summer and spring). Spending time skiing instead of hibernating indoors can help skiers get vitamin D from exposure to the sunlight.