What to Say the Next Time You’re Asked Why You Ski
Skiers are familiar with many of the health benefits of skiing, even if only because you feel all the sore muscles the next day. But there is a lot more happening behind the scenes than even skiing’s biggest advocates might realize.
Physically, mentally, emotionally – skiing affects all of these areas of our self in a positive way. If you want to live a longer, healthier and happier life, skiing could go a long way towards helping you achieve that.
Whether you’re looking for a reason to get into the sport or just in search of more excuses for why you need to hit the slopes more often, here are all the positive benefits of skiing:
1. Builds a strong, resilient body
It’s likely at one point or another that you’ve woken up the morning after a full day of skiing feeling like you’ve gotten hit by a bus, and it’s not always apres ski to blame. The most obvious positive (although it might not feel like it at the time) is skiing’s ability to strengthen muscles. Everyone knows your leg muscles (thighs, glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves) get worked overtime, but skiing really is a full-body workout. You’re constantly utilizing your core muscles to stay balanced and even your upper body muscles are engaged while skiing, using them to help control your speed and direction as you navigate the slopes. All of this results in a total body workout that builds strength and endurance in the muscles.
Skiing also strengthens your bones and joints, particularly in the knees and bones throughout the lower skeletal system. Carrying most of the tension and weight of the body as you ski, the knees get a great workout in. The bones in the legs, hips, knees and feet also get strengthened over time, helping to prevent osteoporosis in the process.
2. Increases cardiovascular endurance
Skiing is an aerobic exercise as much as it is a strength-building workout, and a great way to increase the health of your respiratory system and improve the blood flow of the heart. Not only that, but it makes for an excellent way to shed calories. The constant use of your muscles takes a lot of energy to maintain, and that can result in you burning up to 3,000 calories during a single day of skiing.
The type of skiing you do can have a big effect on the aerobic effect as well. Cross country skiing, for example, will help improve endurance far more than downhill skiing, and even the types of terrain your ski can have a large impact on the health benefits of your ski day.
3. Improves balance and body control
One benefit of skiing that can transfer over to just about any other sport or activity is the improvements in balance, flexibility and overall body control you’ll see from skiing. Skiing well requires a keen sense of where and what your different body parts are doing; in science terms, this is called proprioception.
It is imperative for a skier to maintain good balance and coordination if they plan on staying up right, so naturally this skill improves the more you ski. Proprioception declines with age though, so skiing regularly can help offset that loss by keeping your mind-body connection sharp.
4. Boosts your mood
The mood boosting power of skiing is obvious; just look at how much happier you feel during a day on the slopes (and sometimes even in the ensuing days or weeks). Even just a once-a-year ski trip can have a big effect on your sense of well-being and general outlook on life.
Skiing is a high-engagement activity, meaning that is requires a focus on the present, leading you to temporarily forget about all of life’s stresses. The social aspect of skiing can also be a big psychological plus, as convening around a shared experience with friends and family helps to build bonds that lead to higher satisfaction in life.
5. Helps you age gracefully
One of the wonderful things about skiing is that it can be enjoyed by people of all ages. For all the reasons outlined above, skiing can keep both your mind and body strong as you get older. Skiing is especially beneficial in your later years, as it helps fight off much of the negative side effects of aging, such as weakening muscles and bones, slower reaction times, loss of body control, drops in aerobic capacity and more.
At a time when many people slow down and don’t get the exercise they need, skiing can be a great way to stay fit and have fun with the whole family. Need proof of skiing’s wonders? Hear the story of Lou Batori, the Michigan man who skied until he was 107 years old, or watch our interview with a then 93-year-old Obermeyer founder Klaus Obermeyer about his skiing habits.