The Health Advantages of Winter Sports

Thursday, May 10, 2012
At the time of year when winter sports are at the peak of popularity, many people still chose their cushy recliner chairs over going jogging. That doesn't seem like such a bad idea " winters chilling cold and lingering darkness are barely motivating, but this does have the unfortunate consequence of adding a few extra kilograms to your weight between the months of November and February. To change this, a few of the worlds leading physicians and osteopaths look at the ways in which winter sports (such as ice-skating, skiing, or snowboarding) contribute to a healthier life.

While the frosty roads are not really welcoming, being outside can be very beneficial to your health. There might not be as much sunlight available in the winter, but the rays that do reach us are very direct, and give us our necessary Vitamin D. And if you have a chance to go into the mountains for some downhill sports, the fresh mountain air can be very cleansing to those with allergy problems, asthma, or breathing difficulties due to pollution.

The sports are of course a wonderful way to rid you of that unwanted holiday weight. Experts assert that the average 70-kilo individual burns about 300-400 calories per hour skiing, while snowshoeing rids you of approximately 500-550 calories an hour. And this achieved at your own pace " no intense or high-level sessions necessary.

Winter sports are obviously also a great way to get in shape. Skiing uses almost all muscle groups, but puts the most pressure on your legs " it is particularly strenuous for your knees and quad muscles. Skating affects similar muscle groups, but tends to use the hamstrings and quads more. These sports, among others, are therefore sure ways of getting your muscles working and your heart pumping again, contributing to a fitter you.

More often than not, skiers and skaters are of the recreational athlete sort than the hard-core fitness types, so taking up a winter sport this season is a fun way to get into shape again. It might be difficult to get started, people regularly leave the ice-rink or the piste feeling healthier and livelier and healthier than when they entered it.

One of the most significant benefits of winter sports is that doing exercise in the winter " a time when most prefer to sit and watch TV, is good for your heart. A study conducted by the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation says that wintertime exercise " any exercise " reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes. For those who hate going jogging in the cold, ice-skating or snowboarding might be a fun alternative to get the exercise your heart needs.

Winter sports therefore have many obvious health benefits, and have something to offer for everyone. Just be sure not to overdo it " you do not want an injury to ruin your winter holidays. Activities such as cross-country- and alpine- skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and snowboarding are excellent ways to get moving during this low-energy season. So grab your skis, skates, or snowboard and head for your winter destination!

Andrew Mitchell, clinical editor at the Osteopaths Network, writes papers about musculo-skeletal conditions, drug-free treatment, pain management and how to find a Bracknell osteopaths. He is interested in the treatment of back pain, neck pain and injury and pain management.