Skiing is a fantastic sport. It’s entertaining, exhilarating and gives you a sense of freedom that is often lost in the modern world.
However, spending time on the snow can equate to more than just happiness; it can work wonders for your body and mind. It can be a catalyst for good health and a cornerstone of your wellbeing routine.
In this informative article; we unpack the top 10 health benefits of skiing. Every positive aspect we have listed is backed by scientific study, anecdotal evidence and years of personal experience.
If you are looking for another reason to hit the slopes this winter; you’re about to get 10…
1. Skiing can help you burn fat
If you’re looking for a way to burn fat and maintain optimal body weight; skiing could be the answer. It’s a sport that requires serious effort from every element of your body. It burns a serious amount of calories.
Evidence that skiing is a great workout comes from a study completed by Harvard Medical School. It looked at the average amount of calories burned when performing a range of sports and activities.
The table below lists the findings from the study that relate to skiing. It shows the average amount of calories burned over a 30 minute period based on body weight.
The data shown proves that skiing is a fantastic way to burn calories and can ultimately lead to weight loss. However, it’s important to be mindful that burning calories does not necessarily lead to reduced body fat.
If you want to see results; it’s important to pair skiing with a healthy diet that promotes the mobilization of stored body fat. The best way to achieve this is to eat fewer calories then you expend on the slopes, which will put you into a ‘calorie deficit’. In turn, this will force your body to use fat stores to fuel your skiing, rather than the french-fries you might have scoffed down for lunch.
2. Skiing strengthens your cardiovascular system
The cardiovascular system, also known as the circulatory system, is tasked with pumping blood around your body. In doing this, vital nutrients are transported to your organs, muscles and every other body part you can imagine. The focal point of any cardiovascular system is the heart, which is tasked with pumping this blood to any area it’s required.
By reading that quick description; it’s easy to see why heart health is so important. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death, so it’s not something that should be taken lightly.
Anyone looking to maintain heart health and stave off disease should be performing regular exercise. It’s consistently touted by a multitude of studies as a fundamental way to prevent and recover from heart related issues.
As luck would have it; skiing is a fantastic form of exercise. The act of sliding down the mountain and performing your best turns is enough to raise your heart rate and get the blood pumping.
It’s key to remember that your heart is a muscle. Just like any other muscle on your body; it needs to be trained in order to be strong.
Spending plenty of time on the mountain is a superb way to give your heart the workout it requires. It’s a great way to strengthen your cardiovascular system.
3. Skiing improves your balance
Whether you’re young or old; balance is important. It will allow you to move in a more natural way when performing every day activities and can help you maintain a healthy body posture.
In addition, the benefits of balance on the elderly should never be overlooked. It’s estimated that one in four older adults will fall each year across the United States, leading to balance being viewed as a significant public health concern.
Skiing is a great way to improve your balance and avoid potentially painful falls. It can teach you how to stay connected to your body parts in three-dimensional space, which an essential part of daily life.
The ability to control your movement patterns is something that can help you move gracefully. Whether you’re playing with the kids, rushing to get ready for work or enjoying a Sunday stroll; the benefits of balance reach far and wide.
In order to maximize the balancing benefits of skiing; we advise you to spend as much time on the snow as possible. Balance is a ‘use it or lose it’ skill; so strap on your skis and use it whenever you have the chance.
4. Skiing improves your stamina
Stamina is the ability to maintain prolonged periods of physical or mental exertion. It’s a part of almost every daily activity we perform; from a walk in the park to preparing dinner in the kitchen.
As you might expect; skiing is a sport that requires plenty of stamina. It’s an activity that forces you to repeat the same motions for many hours each day. It can push your physical and mental endurance to the limit.
Spending time on the ski slope is a great way to improve the stamina of your body and mind. It requires prolonged cardiovascular, muscular and mental strength to keep you in control throughout every turn.
The prolonged heart rate elevation that skiing causes can work wonders on your stamina. In addition, the consistent tension placed your muscles will build endurance throughout your torso.
It’s also worth noting that mental stamina is also essential when you’re on the mountain. Having the focus and concentration to consistently produce your best skiing is a skill that can crossover into a multitude of ‘real life’ situations.
Having good stamina is a big part of living a happy and productive life. It will give you the prolonged energy needed to pursue your dreams, embark on adventures and show the best version of yourself on a daily basis.
5. Skiing can improve your mental health
It’s important to remember that skiing isn’t just good for body. The mental benefits of skiing are often overlooked; but may hold equal or greater importance for many.
Just the fact that skiing is exercise immediately makes it a winner for your mental health. It’s been well documented by a range of studies that exercise can have a positive impact on your mind and help to relieve a range of mental health issues.
Performing physical activity has been consistently shown to release stress, reduce anxiety and improve depressive symptoms. It can give you a perceived boost of energy that will heighten your mood and add some sunshine to almost any cloudy day.In our opinion; skiing is the best form of exercise to improve your mental health. Shock! Click To Tweet
Hurtling down the mountain at break-neck speeds releases a flood of endorphins and adrenaline into your system. Both of these chemicals create a surge of energy that can elicit feelings of extreme happiness.
In addition, the picturesque setting in which skiing is performed can work wonders for your mind. It allows you to get back in touch with nature, reduce your screen time and get some all-important vitamin D.
If you need any more convincing that sliding on snow is great for your mindset, we recommend reading our article about the mental benefits of skiing. It takes an in-depth look at how strapping on your skis can be amazing for your mentality.
6. Skiing can strengthen your bones and joints
Skiing has a reputation for being ‘hard on your knees’. It’s this notion that has led to the perception that skiing is inherently bad for your bones and joints.
Part of the reason that skiing has gained an unwanted reputation for ‘ruining knees’ is due to the injuries that can occur during an awkward fall. However, the act of skiing is rarely detrimental to bone and joint health. In fact, it can be the opposite.
The constant tension placed on your joints when skiing can lead to an increase in strength over time. It can also lead to an increase in joint flexibility, which is invaluable for anyone looking to avoid injury.
In addition, the positive impact skiing has on your bones is also substantial. The relatively high-impact and weight-bearing nature of skiing makes it the perfect sport to prevent bone loss and provide added strength.
In our opinion; skiing can be extremely safe for your bones and joints when performed correctly. In fact; it can be more than just safe, it can actually be extremely beneficial.
7. Skiing strengthens lower body muscles
Having good lower body strength is a health benefit that shouldn’t be overlooked. It can improve your overall athletic performance, help you avoid injury and improve your everyday movement patterns.
In fact, one study even showed that leg strength is associated with reduced cognitive aging. Unbelievable!
Skiing is a sport that works your leg muscles exceptionally hard. The correct posture requires you to be in ‘semi-squat’ position at all times, with your leg and hip muscles bearing the load.
The up and down movements required to turn also add further pressure to your muscles. They closely resemble a ‘squat’ or ‘lunge’ that might be performed in the gym; improving your strength by working your quads, hamstrings and glutes especially hard.In essence; skiing is just one big leg workout! Click To Tweet
As you can probably imagine; spending time on the ski slope is a great way to strengthen your lower body. The constant load placed on your legs will break down muscle fibers during the day, and cause them to grow stronger over time.
So, in our opinion, the old saying runs true: Never skip leg day. Especially if leg day involves jumping on a ski lift!
8. Skiing can improve cognitive function
Looking for that mental edge that can help you achieve your goals? Why not give skiing a try!
According to researchers at Harvard Medical School: Moderate-intensity exercise can help improve your thinking and memory in just six months! If you thought physical activity only strengthened your body, think again…
Of course; we believe skiing is the best form of ‘moderate-intensity’ exercise to replenish your mind. It’s a sport that promotes exercising in a healthy way, giving you the full body workout that your brain desires.
In addition, skiing provides an outdoor space that can allow your mind to run free. It gives you a sense of separation from the ‘real world’ challenges you face at home. It gives your brain some space to breathe.
It’s also worth noting that the concentration required to produce your best skiing is significant. Using your focus to slide down your favorite slope for hours at a time is a great workout for the brain, which in turn can garner a healthy mind.
We firmly believe that hitting the slopes can significantly improve brain function, arrest cognitive decline and boost mental clarity. Why not try it for yourself? You might be amazed by the positive benefits in can have on your cognitive health…
9. Skiing improves flexibility
Having flexibility is another health benefit that is overlooked by many. It’s far too common to hear athletic advocates say; ‘I know that stretching is important, and I really should do more of it…’
Well, let’s face the facts. Most people avoid practicing flexibility work because they find it boring or time consuming. However, a range of evidence shows that it might be one of the most important parts of your routine and can have a significant impact on daily life.
According to Mayo Clinic, improved flexibility can lead to a host of benefits. Some of which include:
- Improved physical activity performance
- Decreased risk of injury
- Improved joint range of motion
- Optimal muscle function
In addition, we believe the feeling of having flexibility is great. Jumping out of bed in the morning without an ounce of stiffness is a great way to start your day.
So, if you don’t want to spend hours on end stretching and posing; why not use skiing to improve your flexibility?! The wide range of movements involved can promote better range of motion through your muscles and joints.
If you want to maximize the health benefits of skiing for flexibility; be sure to combine it with a thorough stretching routine. However, if you’re not a big fan of yoga mats, then just strap on your skis and watch your body change.
10. Skiing strengthens your core
Having good core strength is crucial to athletic performance, everyday life and healthy aging. It refers to having power in the underlying muscles of your torso; including your abs, back and pelvis.
Strengthening your core can improve your posture, allow you to avoid injury and give you improved stability. It can improve almost any activity you perform and should be the platform for a healthy body composition.
Many people choose to neglect core strength due to the inherent ‘invisibility’ of this muscle group. Most gym enthusiasts would rather focus their chest or biceps, rather than spend time toughening their trunk.
If you’re someone that doesn’t feel like spending hours doing sit ups; why don’t you try your hand at skiing? It’s a great way to strengthen your midsection and provides a solid workout for all of your core muscles.
Remember that if core strength is overlooked; it’s at your peril. It should be viewed as a key pillar to healthy aging and longevity. Why not out and enjoy the mountain? So you can reap the long-term rewards of this fundamental attribute.
Thoughts from the author
During my many years working as a ski instructor; I have been witness to the substantial health benefits of skiing. Watching in amazement at the positive impact it can have on the lives of my clients has been truly inspirational. It is a big reason why I continue to work on the slopes.
What’s my advice to anyone that wants to feel great on a daily basis? Spend time on the mountain. It can almost certainly stave off disease, improve the condition of your mind and help you perform at your best in almost any situation.
The physical, mental and spiritual health benefits that skiing offers are almost second to none. It truly promotes wellbeing in every sense of the word.
James is the founder of SnowSunSee. He started skiing when he was five years old and has been a qualified ski instructor for 8 years. He has taught skiing in many countries, including UK, Europe, Japan, China and Malaysia. When he’s not on the slopes, James spends his time travelling the world one trail at a time.