Does Skiing Provide a Good Cardiovascular Workout?

If you’re looking for a low-impact form of exercise with cardiovascular benefits, you might want to try skiing. Dr. Josef Niebauer, from Austria’s Paracelsus Medical University, explains skiing boosts cardiac function and blood circulation. The sport also tones the arms and legs. Here’s what you should know about different types of skiing and how they impact cardiovascular health, brought to you by the snow sports experts at ASO Mammoth—the premier place for gear, equipment repair, and ski rentals in Mammoth.

Alpine or Downhill Skiing

Research performed by Dr. Niebauer and his associates indicated downhill skiing provides moderate to strenuous exercise, which is similar to riding a bike or using a rowing machine. The level of benefits received depends on the age and skill of the individual. Gliding down a hard-packed slope is more of a leisurely activity. On the other hand, working one’s way through fresh deep powder offers more of a workout.

Overall, regularly spending time on the slopes strengthens the heart, reduces blood pressure and heart rate, and lowers cholesterol levels. The body makes better use of glucose, and the risk of developing insulin resistance decreases, which can prevent the development of diabetes and associated health problems.

The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine reports skiing also provides a complete lower body workout. Slope skiing tones and strengthens the lower body secondary to the movements the legs make while turning, skidding, carving, and jumping down the slope. The muscles naturally become stronger and more flexible.

Alpine skiing also provides interval training. Skiers travel down a slope in less than one minute or up to 15 minutes, depending on the height of the slalom. The body is then able to rest while the individual rides the lift back up to the peak and repeats the process.

Cross-Country Skiing

Groups of scientists from Indiana’s Ball State University were interested in the health benefits achieved from cross-country skiing. They studied men in their 80s who were physically fit. All the subjects lived independent lives and were capable of engaging in vigorous exercise. However, only half of the group had participated in cross-country skiing throughout their lives. The other half of the group hadn’t engaged in any physical exercise beyond normal daily activity. The researchers found the skiers were in much better physical shape compared to their non-active counterparts. In fact, the cardiovascular and physical fitness of the skiing group was twice that of the other men.

Cross-country skiing provides a full body workout. The arms and legs actively pull and push to propel the body across the trails. No single muscle group is overworked compared to others, so skiers are able to maintain the activity for longer periods. The heart rate remains elevated, which enhances the organ’s ability to pump blood more effectively and efficiently. Thus, the sport is considered an excellent activity for boosting cardiovascular health.

Skiing also burns 1,200 to 2,000 calories a day, which aids in weight loss or weight maintenance. Spending a day exercising while surrounded by nature’s beauty is also a great way to alleviate stress, which encourages endorphin release and reduces systemic inflammation, benefiting the heart. 

No matter what type of skiing you choose, you’ll get a great workout. The best way to try out the sport is to rent high-quality equipment and get some beginner tips from experienced pros. When you come to Mammoth, ski rentals, boots, poles—everything you need to try the sport—are right here at ASO Mammoth, your one-stop shop for all the gear and services you need to have a blast on the mountain. Drop by our shop or give us a call at 760-965-3444.

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