Many people find that it can be a bit difficult to continue to engage in exercise activities throughout the winter months. It's cold outside and the temptation to stay in and avoid working out or being active is greater. However, it's important for your overall health and fitness that you do continue to be active throughout the colder months as well as the warmer ones.
Fortunately, cross country skiing is a great way to get in an excellent workout while enjoying the natural beauty of the outdoors during the winter. Cross country skiing, also known as "XC skiing," is a cardiovascular activity that will work your legs, upper body, arms and other muscle groups as well.
Cross Country Skiing Overview
Cross country skiing is similar in many ways to downhill skiing. The premise is virtually the same: you move around through snow and ice by propelling yourself forward while balancing on individual skis on each of your feet. A set of ski poles can help you to push yourself forward and to control your motion as well.
The primary difference between cross country skiing and downhill skiing, however, is that cross country skiing generally takes place over primarily flat terrain. It's not uncommon for cross country skiing areas to have slight hills and elevation changes, but you will not experience a steady downward slope in the same way that you would through a downhill skiing course. This means that the majority of the forward momentum will have to come from your own body.
Benefits of Cross Country Skiing
Cross country skiing is a full body workout that serves as an excellent cardiovascular activity. Because you must push yourself forward using your feet and legs as well as your arms (by using the ski poles), you're working out your entire body. Additionally, the challenge of balancing and maintaining proper form will help to exercise a variety of other muscles as well.
Cross country skiing is a low impact activity that is safer than downhill skiing. Because you will not achieve the same high speeds that you might in downhill skiing, your chances of impact with another skier or a tree causing you damage will be greatly reduced.
Cross country skiing requires some specialized equipment. The skis themselves are different from those used for downhill skiing. You'll also need appropriate clothing in order to go cross country skiing. This includes several layers of clothing for warmth and appropriately water proof outerwear to prevent you from becoming cold or wet as you're skiing. All of this equipment, including skis and poles, is available at ski specialty shops and some sports stores as well.
When cross country skiing, as with other sports, it's important that you continue to stay hydrated and that you stretch your muscles out before and after all activity. This will help to prevent any other type of injury that you might sustain while skiing.