It's Snow Fun: Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiing and snowboarding are thrilling activities and great workouts. Both sports are
excellent cardiovascular exercises that strengthen the heart. Because they are also
weight-bearing exercises, they strengthen your bones as they tone your muscles.
Cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercises also work to reduce your risk for chronic diseases,
and lower blood pressure. They also help you maintain a healthy body weight. Through
regular aerobic exercise like skiing and snowboarding, you lower your risk of developing
conditions like diabetes and heart disease, having a stroke, and perhaps even getting
It's important to prepare your body for the challenges of these demanding winter sports
with some pre-skiing and pre-snowboarding exercises. These exercises will strengthen
you and get you fit enough to handle the slopes. You also need the proper equipment
and lessons to teach you needed skills. If you have any chronic medical illnesses,
are a smoker, or have not exercised in a while or at all, talk to your health care provider
before skiing or snowboarding.
Start by training your body for these sports a few months before your first lesson.
Consider working out with a personal trainer. You and your trainer can develop a fitness
plan and exercises best suited to help you get into shape before skiing or snowboarding.
Next, sign up for private or group lessons from a qualified skiing or snowboarding
instructor. You'll learn skills and safety guidelines like how to protect yourself
and even how to fall to keep from getting hurt.
Ski and snowboard tips
Once you're fit and know the basics — and even after you're an expert — you still
need to take certain precautions to stay safe on your skis or snowboard. Follow these
guidelines to get the most out of your winter workout and have more fun on the slopes:
Use the right equipment. Whether buying or renting, choose skiing or snowboarding equipment that's in
good shape, of good quality, and fits you correctly. Protect yourself with a
helmet made for skiing; goggles; shin, wrist, and arm guards; and gloves that
fit correctly. Ski boots and bindings should be checked and adjusted by a ski
professional. You should always double check your bindings before you head down
Pay attention. Keep a close eye on the trail, stay on course and on courses designed for your
skill level. Be on the lookout for dangerous ice and avoid it whenever possible. Always
know the snow conditions before you ski or snowboard. If you are unsure of the
conditions, check with the local Ski Patrol. Know and follow the rules of the
Pace yourself. Start out the day with a few slow, easy runs to warm up. Remember not to push
yourself too hard or try a course that's beyond your skill level. Always snowboard
or ski with a buddy. When you feel tired or if your muscles feel weak, take a
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids when you're on the slopes all day, but avoid alcohol.
In addition to eating a healthy breakfast and lunch, you might want to pack healthy
snack bars in a parka pocket.
Know the proper procedures to take if you or someone in your group has an injury, hypothermia (a drop in
body temperature that can be dangerous), or frostbite.
Skiing and snowboarding are exercises that make winter truly fun. Just remember that
both are serious sports that need preparation, safety measures, and skills. So as
soon as the air turns crisp, make sure to start working on winter fitness and you'll
be prepared when the first snowflakes fall.