Downhill skiing is a mix of resistance and endurance training. It has several positive effects on the heart and circulation, not to mention the peripheral muscles, particularly the legs. Research shows that downhill skiing almost equates to cycling or rowing workouts in terms of working the heart. Hopping over rocks while gliding over deep powder will push a person’s heart rate much higher than a leisurely ride down a tarred road.
Despite this, all types of downhill and cross-country skiing offer cardio-metabolic benefits, which includes better insulin resistance, glucose metabolism, body composition, as well as a drop in blood pressure, heart rate and blood lipids. Skiing also reinvigorates the blood vessels and cell health. Studies have shown that skiing can positively affect arterial stiffness, which is a sign of rejuvenating arteries. Arterial stiffness is a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
Benefits Credited With Skiing
Skiing is also a kind of interval training, which has recently become one of the hottest fitness fads there is. After pushing oneself for 20 seconds to 15 minutes during a run, the person gets a nice short break as they ride back to the top of the hill on a cable car. Research suggests this on-off style of workouts: repeatedly physically exerting oneself for a few minutes, then taking a break, can provide a wide range of benefits, from extending one’s life to improving fitness levels.
However, skiing distinguishes itself from other activities when it comes to training and working the muscles of the lower body. The ample mix of highly coordinated movements along with different types of exercise modes such as skidding, carving, quick turns, jumping etc., as well as the mix of isometric, concentric and eccentric muscle work, is seen as something quite unique compared to other types of physical activity.
The knee and hip exertions taking place during downhill skiing create a much more comprehensive range of lower-body muscles than most other forms of physical training and exercise. From the large muscles in the thighs to smaller support muscles surrounding the knees, skiing is a complete lower-body workout.
Why This Is Important
Research on running and trail hiking suggests that training and activating more of such support muscles can improve stability and balance and might cut down on the risk for overuse or repetitive-motion injuries. The scientific literature connected downhill skiing could be a bit more robust, but studies do show that skiing improves balance and range of motion too.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the natural settings that accompany skiing should not be disregarded. There are large amounts of research suggesting that spending time outdoors and in nature is amazing for a person’s mental and physical health. A bit of cold exposure can also provide the benefit of burning fat.