The Health Benefits of Snow Sports
Too often, all of skiing culture gets painted with the same elitist, uber-wealthy brush as depicted by the stereotypical ski brat. And we recognize that focusing on long-term health goals is itself a privilege of those who can safely assume they’ll make it to tomorrow and the day after that. But there is still a huge swath of people who fall somewhere in between and can affordable skiing opportunities around their cities, especially when it doubles as both recreation and physical fitness exercise. Thus, we encourage you to consider the many health benefits that come with a regular skiing or snowboarding habit.
The heart rate is elevated through the physical exertion of walking and carrying ski equipment, as well as the downhill skiing itself. Regular skiing improves the effectiveness of your cardiovascular system, which is essential for good health. Moreover, snowboarding is an aerobic exercise that offers an intense cardio workout and helps to burn calories – a 150lb person will burn around 480 calories in a one-hour session.
Snowboarding predominantly works the leg and abdominable muscles, but works all the major muscles in the body too. The quads, hamstrings and calves are needed to ride the snowboard. Your arms and shoulders will also get a workout since they are needed for balance. Stability is needed for skiing and so also strengthens the core leg muscles; strong leg muscles are beneficial off the slopes as well because they are the largest muscle group in the body and require more calories to be burned.
Balance and Flexibility
A flexible body is beneficial for snow sports. Muscle strains and sprains can be avoided as a result, and a regular stretching routine that focuses on the core muscle groups will strengthen the abdominals, obliques and hips that are used in downhill skiing. In skiing, the lower body is responsible for most of the work involved in balancing and steering down the pistes. These muscle groups will therefore become much stronger over time. In snowboarding, you have to change direction very quickly and so flexibility is improved the more often you hit the slopes. Good balance is obviously very important, as this skill is required to stay upright on the board.
Mastering a new skill such as snowboarding or skiing is a fantastic way of increasing self-confidence. It’s important to challenge yourself and in some cases push yourself out of your comfort zone. As these sports are also very social, they are a great way of meeting new people who share the same interest as you. In the case of ski holidays, people of all different ages and cultures can come together to have a great time. The sports themselves strengthen your ability to concentrate, as you have to learn to pay close attention to the changes in the snow.
For some people, getting outside in the colder months is less than appealing. But for those who do embrace the winter, there are many mental health benefits. For example, the release of adrenaline and endorphins (the ‘feel-good’ hormones) help combat stress, anxiety and depression, while the social element helps you stay engaged with others. It has been shown that getting outside on a regular basis can lead to higher levels of these neurochemicals in your system. Some species of animals may hibernate during winter, but we shouldn’t!