Why skiing is good for you
by NAOMI COLEMAN, femail.co.uk
If you’ve already booked a skiing holiday this year, you are probably looking forward to perfecting your technique on the piste and catching a sun-kissed glow.
But did you know your skiing holiday can provide plenty of health benefits too?
Apart from burning up to 3,000 calories during six hours of skiing, you can lose up to five pounds of weight in a week, tone your stomach muscles, boost your immunity and even relieve depression!
To help you get the best out of your skiing holiday, we present the seven health benefits of the sport
TONES YOUR STOMACH MUSCLES
The art of skiing is to keep yourself steady on the slippery slope. To help balance yourself, you naturally engage your core stability muscles – the sheath of deep muscle that starts either side of your spine and runs around your body, ending up in your pelvic region.
These are key stomach muscles which, when strengthened, act a bit like a corset, compressing the lower abdomen (which means a flatter tummy), toning your stomach muscles and stabilising your spine to protect it when you bend down or fall over on the piste.
Mastering your core stability will also help you balance on the piste and improve your overall coordination.
IMPROVES YOUR CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced skier, you will be giving your cardiovascular system a good workout on the piste.
Improving your cardiovascular system means elevating your heart rate which increases blood circulation, bringing more nutrients and oxygen to your tissues and helping to remove waste from the body more quickly.
Working out in this way also means your muscles are able to draw in more oxygen and blood which produces more capillaries and allows your muscles to expand, and, in turn, burn up calories more quickly.
Betony Garner of the Ski Club of Great Britain believes skiing for just half an hour without stopping is a good cardiovascular workout.
‘Skiing is good for both experienced skiers and beginners because it works the major muscle groups,’ she says.
‘Also, beginners tend to walk up the slope, rather than using a ski lift – which really works the heart and lungs, making it a good overall workout!’
WORKS YOUR MUSCLES
Although skiing exercises all our major muscle groups, it particularly targets the inner and outer thighs, hamstrings and buttock muscles – thanks to the crouching position that skiing involves.
Warming up and down for ten minutes before and after skiing will help prevent muscle soreness and potential injuries by lengthening your muscle fibres. The best way to make sure you are stretching properly is to do a lower leg, hamstring, thigh, lower back, upper back and arm stretch and hold it in the position for 40 seconds.
Skiing also stretches your upper and lower arms, says Corinne Thompson of the gym chain David Lloyd’s.
‘As you grip your poles and steer around moguls you use your triceps (backs of upper arms), biceps (front of upper arms) and lower arm muscles to control your speed and direction,’ she says.
‘This action also engages your shoulder blades and lower back giving a good overall workout.’
But, warns Corinne, you should try to avoid skiing immediately after lunch. ‘Allow at least an hour’s rest after eating,’ she says. ‘This is because your body needs a good blood supply to digest your lunch.’
If you use your muscles to ski before your food is digested properly it can make you feel nauseous – which can be dangerous if you feel dizzy and fall down,’ she says.
HELPS YOU LOSE WEIGHT
According to fitness experts, you can lose up to five pounds during a week’s skiing holiday. This is because a typical day’s skiing can burn up to 3,000 calories – far more than a session at the gym.
Bethony Garner of Ski Club of Great Britain says the steeper the slope, the more calories you’ll burn because your body has to work harder to keep your body balanced. ‘Experienced skiers are also more likely to negotiate moguls – which use up even more muscle power and so burn even more calories,’ she says.
Not only that, but being exposed to sub zero temperatures means your body is forced to raise its own body temperature and it does this by burning off even more calories!
Betony points out taking it easy on the hot chocolate and pastries can also encourage weight loss. ‘High calorific food and drinking alcohol goes hand-in-hand with skiing holidays, but avoiding them will help you lose weight even faster,’ she says.