By Angie Comer
For some, winter is a time of snuggling up by the fire, indulging in hot cocoa and hibernating until spring. While that can be enjoyable, you’re far more likely to find me on the slopes!
Snow skiing is my favorite sport, and I love it so much that my wedding was planned around a week of skiing in beautiful Aspen, Colorado with my entire family and close friends. In addition to being a thrill, skiing is a pastime loaded with health benefits. Whether you’re eager to burn calories, build up your leg muscles or just get rid of anxiety, skiing might be the sport you’re searching for.
Improved Cardiovascular Fitness
Sure, gravity is helping if you’re skiing downhill, but your heart will still be getting a killer workout! As you ski, your heart rate increases. The higher your heart rate, the more oxygen your body needs-and the more calories you burn in the process. Skiing is an aerobic sport, which means that you’ll be keeping your heart rate elevated for much of the time you’re on the slopes. Keep in mind that if you’re skiing at high altitude, you’ll be taxing your heart and your cardiovascular system a little more than normal. At high elevations, your heart has to work harder to deliver plenty of oxygen to the muscles that need it most. To enjoy the heart-healthy benefits of skiing without struggling with altitude sickness, try to get to your favorite ski destination a day or two ahead of time. That allows you to acclimate to the elevation before you strap on your skis.
Focus on the Core
In order to keep an upright posture when you’re skiing, you have to rely on your core an incredible amount. For balance, you’ll use your obliques as well as your abdominals. Although everyone expects to have sore legs the day after hitting the slopes, don’t be surprised if you can also feel it in your core. A few runs down a challenging slope is a lot more fun than doing hundreds of crunches, that’s for sure!
Muscles of the Lower Body
Whether you’re heading for the bunny slopes or the black diamonds, skiing is a great workout for all the muscles of the lower body. Your glutes serve as the powerhouse, helping to stabilize you as you remain in the squat position for extended periods of time. Skiing is also going to help shape and build your quads and your hamstrings. Even the muscles in your feet and ankles get a workout when you’re skiing.
Mental Health Benefits of Skiing
Although the physical benefits of skiing are nothing to scoff at, it’s the psychological benefits that many skiers love most. Strap on your skis to enjoy a boost of endorphins and adrenaline—a combination of feel-good chemicals that can keep you smiling for days to come. Plus, since skiing is an outdoor sport, skiers get the added benefit of Vitamin D. A dose of sunshine is proven to boost mood and stave off depression. Just one more reason to head for the snow-capped mountains.