Every year, winter forces us to spend a lot of time at home on the couch without moving. Turn off the TV and go outside, there are many fun ways to enjoy sports in the cold season too!
Along with much-needed fresh air, winter activities provide an opportunity to build muscle and become more resilient.
“The best endurance sport is cross-country skiing,” says neuroscientist, MD, Stephen Olvey. “This sport burns more calories than any other activity.”
Cross-country skiing is an aerobic sport. This means that you move non-stop for a long period of time, and your heart pumps oxygen to the muscles, charging them with energy. While skiing, the muscles are strengthened depending on the style, but the muscles of the thigh, gluteal, calf, biceps and triceps are necessarily worked out.
A person weighing 70 kg burns 500 to 640 calories per hour of cross-country skiing. Olvi gives advice for those who have chosen this type of activity:
- Do not overdo it. Start by setting small distances for yourself.
- Warm up your body first using the elliptical trainer so that your muscles don’t overstress.
- If you are riding in a remote area, bring drinks and snacks with you.
- Wear multiple layers of clothing that won’t restrict movement.
- Don’t forget about safety. Let your friends know where you are going and when you plan to return. Olvi warns: “It doesn’t take long to cool down.”
Unlike cross-country skiing, alpine skiing provides a shorter burst of energy. In most cases, the descent takes 2-3 minutes.
When going down the track, the hamstrings, thighs and foot muscles are mainly worked. To a lesser extent, the abdominal muscles are involved in the control of the body and the hands holding the sticks are strengthened.
Alpine skiing is a sport that improves balance, flexibility, agility and leg strength. Unlike water skiing, mountain skiing does not strain the back muscles.
A 70 kg person burns 360 to 570 calories per hour downhill skiing.
Olvi advises beginners to avoid excessive heights to avoid altitude sickness. Most resorts limit the height of the slopes to approximately 3300 meters. It is better to acclimatize and gradually raise the bar. Signs of altitude sickness are headache, muscle pain, abnormal shortness of breath and clouding of consciousness.
It is necessary to monitor the measure of your fatigue. A large percentage of injuries happen on the day you decide to do “one more last run.” The result is often an ankle injury. And make sure you’re drinking enough fluids, even if it’s cold and not at all thirsty.
Snowboarding primarily works the calves, hamstrings, quads, and feet. The abdominal muscles are also actively involved in maintaining balance. A person weighing 70 kg burns about 480 calories per hour while snowboarding.
Jonathan Chang, MD of the Pacific Orthopedic Association in California, says the benefit of snowboarding is that “the thrill is good for mental health.” Outdoor activities improve mood and reduce anxiety levels.
For your own safety, make sure that you do not set yourself goals above your abilities and abilities.
Chang’s tips for snowboarders:
- Choose terrain that suits your skill level.
- To burn more calories, look for more difficult routes, but only if you have the skills to handle them.
- Rule #1: Wear a helmet, elbow pads, and wrist guards.
- If you are a beginner, it is better to take a few lessons instead of experimenting on the slope
Orthopedic surgeon Angela Smith is more than just a skate lover. She is also the former Chair of the US Figure Skating Medical Committee.
“Skating doesn’t take a lot of energy unless you’re doing jumps that strengthen your lower body muscles, including your hips, hamstrings and calves,” Smith says.
Skates also develop flexibility, speed and agility, as well as the ability to keep balance. Skaters develop hips more, men in pair skating have a strong upper body.
Smith says the advantage of skating is that even a beginner can burn calories. You will need a lot of energy to do just a couple of laps. As you gain experience, you can skate longer to build up your strength and endurance.
Many people don’t know that running skates should be a size smaller than street shoes. “There is no such thing as weak ankles, there are inappropriate skates,” says Smith.
If you like group sports, then go ahead – hockey!
Aside from the camaraderie, the bonus of hockey is in training the same muscle groups as other speed skating sports. You strengthen the lower body, the abs, and the upper body works with the stick.
In hockey, players actively move for 1-1,5 minutes, and then rest for 2-4 minutes. During play, the heart rate can rise to 190, and during the rest period, the body burns calories to recover.
To get the most out of the game, it is recommended that you go out on the ice three times a week. However, people with heart problems or high blood pressure need to monitor their pulse and get more rest. It is also recommended to consult with your doctor before starting to actively engage in ice hockey.
As with other sports, it is important to drink enough fluids. It is better to have a drink before the game than to quench your thirst after, and not to drink alcohol, which contributes to dehydration.