With the COVID-19 pandemic plunging the UK into lockdown, health and wellbeing have never been more important. With gyms and other indoor and outdoor activity facilities forced into closures, people are being forced into finding home-based alternatives to keep themselves in shape.
As we move through the winter, one such activity and industry that has taken an enormous hit is skiing. For many, the winter ski break is a tradition. Something not to be missed out on for social reasons as much as any. However, for the more avid skiers, it also represents a considerable health and fitness driver.
In this article, we take a look at the top 5 health benefits of skiing and why it is so well-recommended by health bodies across the UK.
Strengthens bones and joints
Most of the time, when you think of bones and joints in relation to skiing, it would usually be associated with injuries suffered. It is true, skiing carries risks as do most physical activities. However, according to research, it also has excellent bone strength benefits.
According to research carried out by The British Editorial Society of Bone & Joint Surgery in their Orthopaedic Proceedings paper, the skeletal adaptations that occur within the extreme mechanical environment experienced during competitive skiing likely contributed to the greater bone strength observed in skiers.
Yes, this report was based on test subjects that were elite-level alpine skiers. However, its findings clearly display the benefits of skiing regularly in relation to bone strength.
As an aerobic activity, skiing can enhance the health of your heart and lungs as it improves the body’s oxygen usage. Skiing is one of the aerobic exercise examples recommended on WebMD in their article Heart Disease and Exercise for a Healthy Heart, which addresses heart health for the over 50s age category.
For younger people, good cardiovascular health is of vital importance to your quality of life. Taking up an exercise that challenges you aerobically can be one of the best decisions you make. There are many places in the UK for beginners to go and learn, including the UK’s longest indoor ski slope at Chill Factore in Manchester. They have been particularly proactive during the lockdown, providing exercise tips for people while in lockdown.
Other such venues in the UK include The Snow Factor in Scotland, the Snowdome in Tamworth and Snowtrax in Dorset. All of which offer skiing lessons.
Great for mental health
As with any aerobic exercise, skiing releases endorphins and adrenaline, which provides excellent stimulation for the mind. Outdoor skiing also carries the additional benefit of boosting your vitamin intake. With previous studies suggesting that there is a link between depression and vitamin D deficiencies, this can only be a good thing.
Mental health is under the microscope more than ever with the impact of COVID-19. This is reflected by Snowsportengland’s #snowmorestigma campaign, an initiative designed to encourage people to get involved with skiing and look after their mental health.
Strengthens your core
It’s probably no surprise to learn that learning to ski can drastically improve your core strength. One of the key takeaways from a stronger core is improved balance, something that of course will come in handy on a ski slope. However, the NHS promotes good balance, stating that it is important to alleviate stress on your joints and therefore reduce pain.
Indeed, the Oxford Paediatric and Adolescent Rheumatology Centre states that if your middle is strong you are less likely to experience pain in your back, arms or legs. Ultimately, core stability will just make everything that requires movement a whole lot easier. At the end of the day, who doesn’t want that?
Improves your diet
The final benefit may sound a bit strange but, as with any demanding sporting activity, a good, healthy diet is not only encouraged but almost becomes a necessity. Skiing is no different to many sports. It is fun most of the time, but it always seems more enjoyable when you improve your health and diet is usually the first thing people look at when they want to improve their fitness.
So there you have it, the top 5 health benefits to skiing. So what are you waiting for? Thanks to the UK’s fantastic indoor centres, you don’t have to wait for next winter to get on the slopes, lockdown permitting of course!