In the summer, everyone has a lot of opportunities to exercise, but winter skiing is one of the relatively few options that many of us have for staying in shape during the colder, darker season. For anyone who is looking for a way to get a good workout in the snow, skiing may be a good option.
Winter Skiing and The Legs
Because so much of the movements of downhill snow skiing are based on the legs, this activity helps give leg muscles and joints a real workout. The traditional speed control methods, including side-to-side motions and a wedged ski strategy, both work on the muscle groups that run all the way up the legs. With the right attention to maximum range of motion and stress on the legs, winter skiing can be a great way to insulate the lower body against some of the problems that come with a sedentary lifestyle. This includes poor bone density, weak calves, knees and thighs, and some kinds of joint weaknesses.
Winter Skiing and The Core
The core muscles that help to stabilize the body and support the spine also get a good workout on the slopes. When the body holds specific stressed positions in order to control the motion of the skis, the core muscles are actively engaged. You can feel this while skiing, even without moving the muscles in question. The leg muscles and even the core abdomen muscles are generally locked in place, but when they tense to react against vector forces (hills, sharp drops, etc.) the core gets a power workout, and that tends to keep the whole body in good shape.
Cardio and Lung Benefits of Winter Skiing
Along with all of the previously mentioned positive aspects of skiing, this activity can be good for the cardio and respiratory systems of the body, as well. When you are skiing you tend to take deep breaths, which helps circulation and lung-capacity development. The heart rate tends to increase relatively slowly, giving you a great cardio workout.
Safety Aspects of Winter Skiing
Especially in downhill skiing, attention to some safety points will make the difference between a good workout and some possibly extreme injuries.
One of the issues is knowing the lay of the land: hidden ice bumps or steep drops can overwhelm beginners. Another key consideration is the kind of leg control that is critical to staying in an intended path. Many skiers start to develop too much momentum and, unable to safely curb their motion, stress the leg too much. This causes ankle or knee injuries of all kinds.
Another aspect to think about is the cold weather environment. While this is fine for most people, in some cases, it can exacerbate existing health issues. Underdressed skiers can develop conditions like bronchitis or even pneumonia.