Are you a seasoned vet at cross-country skiing, snowboarding, or downhill skiing? Or have you always wanted to try? Whether you’re an experienced skier or not, you really should consider hitting the slopes this winter. Not only is skiing a fantastic physical activity, but it might also help your mental health, as well.
Here are just a few reasons you should schedule a trip to a ski resort this winter.
Researchers conducted a study to find out how skiing might contribute to people’s overall levels of happiness and satisfaction. They surveyed nearly 300 people who either skied, snowboarded, or both.
The researchers determined the satisfaction and happiness levels of the respondents by analyzing their engagement level in their favorite ski-related activity. They also looked at the sense of satisfaction the participants reported after heading to the slopes.
The scientists found that the skiers who said they forgot about everything else while on a slope enjoyed the most benefits – they were generally happier and more satisfied.
One interesting finding was that those who engaged in cross-country skiing or downhill skiing tended to report a higher level of involvement and pleasure than those who snowboarded.
According to the results, whether a person only casually skis or does it regularly, they can reap substantial benefits. Research suggests that the physical and social aspects of the activity significantly contribute to a person’s well-being.1
Why Exercise Is So Important
Just about any type of exercise is good for you. Whether you prefer skiing, aerobics, or swimming, exercise is a particularly effective way to manage stress. Engaging in physical activity helps to stimulate the production of endorphins – transmitters in the brain that contribute to a feeling of euphoria throughout the body. Exercising regularly also helps improve your mood by increasing your self-confidence and reducing anxiety.
A weight-bearing exercise, such as skiing, helps to strengthen your knees – potentially reducing the chances you’ll suffer an injury farther down the road. Weight-bearing exercises also help make your bones stronger. This may help lower your risk of developing osteoporosis, or brittle bones, as you get older.3
Skiing also promotes improved balance and coordination. You have to be completely aware of the slightest movement when you’re on the slopes. As a result, your sense of balance becomes sharper. This can help lower the risk of falling as the years go by.4
Other Benefits of Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiing is great exercise, but there are plenty of other reasons you should consider hitting the slopes this winter. Here are just some of them:
Reduces the risk of depression
The endorphins released through an exercise such as skiing may help reduce the chances that you’ll become depressed. And staying with a regular physical activity may also help keep depression from returning.
Skiing in the cold, crisp air has another mental health benefit – it simply puts you in a better mood. When you’re outdoors, you get more of an appreciation of nature. This, in turn, can help promote a feeling of peacefulness.6
Skiing, and other forms of exercise, may help you think clearer and make better decisions. The combination of a stimulating outdoor environment and invigorating physical activity can do wonders for your mind.
In fact, researchers say that regular exercise could help you avoid cognitive decline and memory loss as you get older. In one study, researchers provided an activity tracker for one week to more than 6,000 people 65 years and older. According to the results, the people who engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity were substantially less likely to experience cognitive issues than those who performed little to no physical activity.7
People who engage in regular physical activity tend to not only sleep longer, but also have better sleep quality.8 According to a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, people who say they exercise report sleeping better than those who describe themselves as non-exercisers. More than 75 percent of people who exercise said their sleep was “very good” or “fairly good” in the preceding two weeks. In comparison, only 56 percent of people who don’t exercise reported very good or fairly good sleep.9
Staying Safe on the Slopes
If you’re thinking of skiing or snowboarding for the first time, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind to stay as safe as possible. First of all, you need to make sure you’re in good physical shape. If you have any doubts whatsoever, talk to your doctor to make sure they’re okay with you trying this new activity.
You also want to make sure you have the right clothing. Dress in layers to stay warm. The first layer you wear should be something that will wick sweat away and keep you dry. The middle layer should be something that will help regulate the temperature of your body, such as wool or fleece. The top layer should be something that will keep moisture off of your body and protect you from the wind, such as Gore-Tex.
Bring along some snacks to help you stay energized on the slopes, like nuts or fruit. Never drink alcohol when skiing, and make sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Finally, protect yourself from the sun. Even though you’ll be in a cold environment, you could still get sunburned.
Winter Is Coming
As long as you take the right precautions and make sure you get clearance from your doctors, you should have a fantastic time skiing. Whether you are more comfortable with cross-country skiing, or you’re more adventurous and want to try downhill skiing, your experience will very likely be exhilarating – and great for your overall health.
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