The seemingly effortless sport of downhill skiing can have many benefits to the body. It's also a great and fun way to keep fitness levels up.
A good, flexible body is going to be a huge benefit when taking part in skiing. These conditions will help you avoid muscle strains and sprains. A thorough, regular stretching routine that focuses on the core muscle groups will strengthen the abdominals, obliques and hips that are used in downhill skiing. As the lower body is the part that will take the most of the work involved in balancing and steering down the pistes, it is these muscle groups that need to be focused on specifically.
A great all-over stretch is called the ‘Superman’, and involves lying flat on the floor, face down, with the arms stretched in front, like Superman flying. Then slowly raise the arms up as far as possible while lifting the head to look upwards and raising the feet up at the same time so the body ends up in a ‘U’ position. Hold this for 10 seconds and slowly return to the starting position. ry to complete 10 of these and the stretch will be felt in the lower back, as well as the core muscles and upper thighs.
As a lot of the work in downhill skiing relies on the legs, it is important to realize that the legs can get a great workout during the sport. Stability is the key when skiing downhill, and the leg muscles are constantly making adjustments to the balance in order to stay upright.
The general stance of the downhill skier is in a slight crouch, knees bent and feet together, which in itself is putting a fair amount of strain on the leg muscles, especially the large quadriceps and glutes muscle groups. Doing squatting exercises before hitting the slopes will help prepare the legs for the workout that lies on the pistes. Strong leg muscles are a benefit off the slopes as well, as they are the largest muscle groups in the body and require more calories to be burned in the form of energy to use them.
As well as the strength and flexibility aspects of downhill skiing, the very fact that the sport involves being outdoors makes it an activity that will benefit the health and fitness of everyone participating. The heart rate will be elevated through the actual physical exertion of walking and carrying the ski equipment, as well as the downhill skiing itself of course. But there is also a healthy psychological benefit that couples with it. Endorphins and adrenaline are released onto the bloodstream, elevating the mood and providing an overall sense of wellbeing and contentment. Downhill skiing is a great all-round way to keep both the body and the mind healthy and fit for anyone willing to give it a try.